Repo Commentary-09/10/21

On 9/11/2001, a series of 4 coordinated terrorist attacks by the militant Islamist terrorist group, al-Qaeda, were committed against the United States of America. They hijacked 4 commercial airliners full of passengers with the goal of crashing each plane into a prominent American building, causing mass casualties and partial or complete destruction of those buildings. The first plane, American Airlines Flight 11, hit its intended target, World Trade Center North Tower at 8:46am. Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03am, United Airlines Flight 175 hit World Trade Center South Tower. Both 110-story towers collapsed within one hour and forty-two minutes, leading to the collapse of other World Trade Center buildings around them, including 7 World Trade Center.  The third flight, American Airlines Flight 77, flown from Dulles, was hijacked over Ohio and it crashed into the West side of the Pentagon at 9:37am in Arlington, VA, causing a partial collapse of that side of the building. The fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, was flown in the direction of Washington, DC to hit either the White House or the Capitol, but failed to make it, as brave passengers overwhelmed the terrorists and it crashed in a field near Shanksville, PA at 10:03am. The attacks resulted in the deaths of 2,977 people (not including the 19 terrorists), over 25,000 injuries, and substantial long-term health consequences, particularly for first responders, which are still manifesting today from the asbestos and other materials of the destroyed buildings. More than 1,100 victims have never been identified, although NYC continues to search for DNA matches. Of those killed in 9/11, 340 firefighters and 72 law enforcement officers were killed, the deadliest incident to those professions in the history of the United States. In addition, there was at least $10 billion in damage, a major global recession, and many countries strengthening their anti-terrorism efforts.

Allow me to express my feelings briefly here, as we commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the terrorist attacks on the United States of America. This catastrophic event touches me personally and deeply to this day. I lost scores of clients, colleagues, friends, and 6 golf partners at the World Trade Center in NYC. I was on the phone with my Repo Desk personnel at our newly merged partner, Dean Witter, when the first plane struck and my phone line went dead.  I watched on the TV one foot in front of my face, Live, as the second plane hit the other tower. The market was in chaos, our building was chaos, as most of our employees were evacuated. I stayed behind with 3 volunteers to make sure Morgan Stanley was financed for the day.  I happened to live at the time in Olympic Tower on 51st/Fifth, right above St. Patrick’s Cathedral from which I heard the bagpipes play “Amazing Grace” every day for months for each of the brave first responders lost in the disaster. I also could look down Fifth Avenue and see the smoke for weeks coming from the rubble that was the World Trade Center. At the time, I also headed the North America Repo Desk for Morgan Stanley and, along with volunteers walked to our midtown location to make sure that the firm’s securities were financed. Not only did I have the fortune to attend the Concert for NYC with some of the greatest musicians in the world to raise money for the 9/11 Relief Fund, but I actually had been at the reunion of Jackson 5 and many other artists the night before on 9/10. I left Morgan Stanley in 2004 to join Cantor Fitzgerald to help rebuild their Repo Desk and make it into a global Primary Dealer, walking in the footsteps and in honor of my friends lost in 9/11. Cantor was the worst hit of any firm in 9/11, with 658 lives lost, 80% of their US workforce (and 76 more from Eurobrokers, when they merged). I used to be one of the Cantor folks who read the names of the fallen at the annual 9/11 memorial in Central Park. I also was honored to sing the National Anthem and “God Bless America” for the 5th Anniversary of 9/11 for the NY Mets and the Florida Marlins. I definitely will never forget and I pray that we never forget the many fallen, the broken lives of families, and the loss of brave first responders and fine civilians. In less than a terrible two hours in NYC and the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, Americans lost our innocence forever.

I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/e education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo.

I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. Although I have completed several projects (below) and am looking to lend my 39 years of expertise to firms via consulting or via full-time positions.

  • I have completed writing/recording/presenting the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals. Our new normal of e-Learning.
  • I am sharing my opinion and expertise with the industry in articles in various periodicals. I just shared thoughts for an article with Bloomberg.
  • I am consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo.
  • I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums. In fact, I just gave a tutorial 8/26/21 for PAC members on the latest happenings with the Federal Reserve and the Debt Ceiling and the impacts to the Repo market. It was recorded and members should access the recording to hear my thoughts and discussion with Roy Zimmerhansl. We are discussing making this a more regular kind of Repo Bulletin and maybe make it open to members and non-members.

So, if you need my Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeff@kidwellconsultants.com) or (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested  in entertaining (70-80%) you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. You have more than enough stress already!  Feel free, as always, to send me information, comments or pictures, to make it better!

Holidays or Events (09/10):

  • It’s the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 tomorrow
  • Blame It on the Large Hadron Collider Day
  • International Creepy Boston Dynamics Robotic Horse Day
  • International Make-Up Day
  • National 401(K) Day
  • National Hot Dog Day
  • National Swap Ideas Day
  • Sew Be It Day
  • Stand up to Cancer Day
  • TV Dinner Day
  • World Suicide Prevention Day
  • Amerindian Heritage Day (Guyana)
  • Children’s Day (Honduras)
  • Gibraltar National Day
  • Saint George’s Caye Day (Belize)
  • Teachers’ Day (China)

Some Famous People Born on (09/10):

  • 1929-Arnold Palmer, American golfer
  • 1933-Karl Lagerfeld, German-French designer and photographer
  • 1934-Charles Kuralt-American journalist
  • 1934-Roger Maris-American baseball player and coach
  • 1947-Larry Nelson-American golfer
  • 1948-Bob Lanier-American basketball player and coach
  • 1949-Bill O’Reilly-American journalist and author
  • 1953-Amy Irving-American actress
  • 1960-Colin Firth-English actor and producer
  • 1963-Randy Johnson-American baseball player and actor
  • 1968-Guy Ritchie-English director, producer, and screenwriter
  • 1972-James Duvall-American actor and producer
  • 1974-Ryan Phillippe-American actor and producer
  • 1983-Joey Votto-Canadian baseball player

Daily Weird Facts:

Grateful  airline passengers stranded in Gander, Newfoundland on 9/11/01 started a scholarship fund for local students that now totals around $1.5 million.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”—Henry Miller

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18

$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18

$48.63 on 01/07/19

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21

$66.34/barrel on 03/05

$61.30/barrel on 04/01

$63.68/barrel on 05/13

$72.25/barrel on 06/15

$74.86/barrel on 07/02, just where it was on 10/5/18 at the top of the list. What a roller coaster!

$72.30/barrel on 07/15

$68.03/barrel on 08/13

$68.06/barrel on 09/09

There has been a lot of news about oil prices crashing, and they did fall below $70/barrel, but they have stopped falling.  So did high gasoline prices in the US. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station had fallen to $2.87/gallon, but now have stuck there. Experts believe gasoline prices are being disrupted by Hurricane Ida’s devastating impact on Louisiana and pipelines and shipments from there to the Southeast. Also, a nationwide resurgence in COVID-19 cases and deaths has suddenly halted the exodus of travelers. China has just made an unprecedented intervention in the global oil market, releasing crude oil from its strategic reserve for the first time, with the specific goal of lowering oil prices. It may be an unprecedented intervention by China in that market, but China has intervened in other markets regularly.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:

104.80 on 02/07/20

99.23 on 03/11/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

110.63 on 04/01/21

108.61 on 04/28/21

110.05 on 06/15/21

111.44 on 07/02/21

109.94 on 07/15/21

109.59 on 08/13/21

109.92 on 09/10/21

One Euro was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.1426

12/06/19 at $1.1688

03/11/20 at $1.1937

05/04/20 at $1.0903

12/16/20 at $1.2196

02/04/21 at $1.2625

04/01/21 at $1.1774

04/28/21 at $1.2123

07/02/21 at $1.1822

07/15/21 at $1.1806

08/13/21 at $1.1797

09/10/21 at $1.1820

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.2655

12/06/19 at $1.3819

02/07/20 at $1.3574

03/24/20 at $1.2231

12/16/20 at $1.3494

02/16/21 at $1.3903

06/15/21 at $1.4083

07/02/21 at $1.3743

07/15/21 at $1.3819

08/13/21 at $1.3866

09/10/21 at $1.385

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24/18

1.2530 on 12/06/19

1.2390 on 01/17/20

1.3540 on 03/18/20

1.2752 on 12/16/20

1.2186 on 06/15/21

1.2417 on 07/02/21

1.2539 on 07/15/21

1.2515 on 08/13/21

1.2644 on 09/10/21

With data showing reemerging inflation and the Fed’s concern about inflation, precious metals, a historic hedge against inflation may become a popular topic again soon. Gold prices:

10/02/19 $1,498.70/ounce

03/11/20 $1,641.00/ounce

07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce

11/30/20 $1,774.00

01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00

03/05/21 $1,698.70

04/28/21 $1,782.20

06/15/21 $1,859.90

07/02/21 $1,789.00

07/15/21 $1,828.00

08/13/21 $1,781.50

09/09/21 $1,797.20

Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25/18

$6,350.00 on 10/5/18

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,598.90 on 01/16/19

$3,421.10 on 02/06/19

$8,100.00 on 05/16/19

$7,215.79 on 05/17/19

$11,919.30 on 06/25/19

$9,790.37 on 07/24/19

$10,183.90 on 09/10/19

$8,235.46 on 10/02/19

$7,470.41 on 12/06/19
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

$7,871.60 on 03/11/20

$3,867.00 on 03/13/20

$5,216.64 on 03/18/20

$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20 pre halving event

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20 post halving event

$10,849.00 on 07/27/20

$15,160.90 on 11/10/20

$19,411.50 on 11/30/20

$20,665.10 on 12/16/20

$31,592.20 on 01/04/21

$36,607.50 on 02/04/21

$48,526.90 on 02/16/21

$58,093.71 on 02/21/21

$43,170.01 on 02/28/21

$49,207.43 on 03/05/21

$58,979.60 on 04/01/21

$63,237.00 on 04/15/21

$54,886.50 on 04/28/21

$54,242.00 on 05/12/21

$39,804.90 on 06/15/21

$33,039.30 on 07/02/21

$31,280.00 on 07/15/21

$47,796.20 on 08/13/21 ouch what a whipsaw!

$46,574.40 on 09/09/21

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. On 3/13/20, it had cratered at $3,867.  It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  It exploded in early 2021, as new corporate investors (including Elon Musk) jumped in. On 4/15/21, it hit a high of $63,237.  It made almost exactly a 50% downward correction, falling back to early 2021 levels recently, wiping out all 2021 gains. All of a sudden, it is climbing higher again. Quite a whipsaw, not for the faint of heart. The SEC has just signaled it is willing to take a hard line approach towards cryptoasset regulation and what Chair Gary Gensler has called the “Wild West of finance”, by threatening to sue Coinbase over a plan to offer accounts that pay interest on cryptoasset holdings. This has also intensified the debate about the SEC’s jurisdiction over cryptoassets. The Governor of Sweden’s central bank compared buying and selling Bitcoin to trading stamps, questioning the staying power of currencies without government backing. The SEC has delayed its decision on the application by VanEck for launching a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund for an additional 60 days until November 14th.  Mastercard has reportedly agreed to acquire CipherTrace, a firm that provides anti-money laundering services in the cryptocurrency sector. The Solana cryptocurrency has gained 32% in a week to achieve a market cap of about $55 billion, bringing it just short of the top 5 cryptocurrencies. Solana developers claim that it’s based on the world’s fastest blockchain.

Brexit:

Brexit is causing some pain, as Britain is no longer in top 10 for trade with Germany, according to Reuters. The Guardian reports that EU nationals in UK face losing out on jobs and housing. The Unionist leader says the Brexit deal could sink the Northern Ireland government. The EU has paused legal action against the UK over Northern Ireland Protocol, but it is the huge focus now of Brexit. There is now a farming labor shortage in Britain, due to both Brexit and the pandemic.  

Global Financial News:

With inflation soaring, the bad news is for retirees. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency is moving to reverse Trump-era Community Reinvestment Act fair lending rules.  The proposal would return the framework to the 1995 standards. A decline in loan-loss provisions helped contribute to healthy profit for banks in Q2, but the FDIC says the average net interest margin has fallen 31bp to 2.5%, the lowest level on record. So, FDIC-insured banks have seen net income fall 8% in Q2 compared with Q1. $9.5 trillion asset manager, BlackRock’s, first Chinese mutual fund has raised $1 billion among 111,000 subscribers, despite the recent warning by George Soros that investing in China is a “tragic mistake”. A report from Allied Market Research forecasts worldwide growth for wealth-management industry to as much as $3.43 trillion by 2030, from $1.25 trillion in 2020. Researchers, according to Financial Advisor IQ, predict that the drivers will be alternative investments, such a private equity, hedge funds, REITs, and intellectual property. According to American Banker, Wells Fargo has developed an accounts receivables service that uses artificial intelligence, robotic processing and machine learning to improve processes for payment data capture and invoice matching. Citizens Financial Group will acquire boutique bank JPM for $149 million, its 4th acquisition this year following its purchases of HSBC’s east coast bank branches, Investors Bancorp, and valuation consulting firm Williamette Management Associates. Morningstar, to enable direct indexing, has agreed to acquire Moorgate Benchmarks. Now, Morningstar will be able to join BlackRock, Vanguard, Morgan Stanley and others in offering direct-indexing services. A PGIM survey shows 62% of advisors allocate clients’ assets to actively managed investments compared to 34% for passive strategies and 4% to cash. The Fed Beige Book noted a marginal slowdown of the economy, along with higher prices. Day-trading darling GameStop dropped after recording a Q2 loss that was worse than expected. However, some say that this stock is actually 90% psychology/momentum and only 10% about fundamentals and earnings. The Securities Lending industry has had its fill of the stock probably. Wells Fargo was fined $250 million over mortgage business failures by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which said that it had engaged in “unsafe or unsound practices” with its loan modification program.  It also said that the bank was in violation of a 2018 consent order. Meanwhile, the bank’s shares actually rose after it acknowledged that a separate 2016 consent order from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has expired. The SEC may alter insider trading, as an advisory committee has recommended rule changes for insider trading and for disclosures from special-purpose acquisition companies (SPAC), to strengthen investor protection. The changes would require a period of at least 4 months after a company executive acquires stock before the person can trade it, with a goal of discouraging insider trading.  In other news, Hong Kong reportedly will limit investors’ access to SPACs. A US District judge has just issued a tentative ruling rejecting a lawsuit that seeks to immediately terminate LIBOR, which plaintiffs call an illegal price-fixing agreement. But, he also signaled that the litigation isn’t over. CFTC’s Dan Berkovitz announced that he will be leaving his post on 10/15, well before his 2023 term expiration. That will leave the 5-member CFTC with one Democrat and one Republican commissioner. Nasdaq has launched a Cloud-based data hub, Nasdaq Data Link hub, bringing together recent expansions in cloud computing and alternative data. According to the World Federation of Exchanges, an increased demand for options during the first half of 2021 let to listed derivatives trading to increase 36% to 29.2 billion contracts. Options trading was up 56% over H1 2020, while futures trading rose by 1/5 and single stock options and futures increased 69% and 83% respectively. EU banks are reportedly struggling to balance the minimum requirements for eligible liabilities requirements proposed by regulators (TLAC rules) and the needs of ESG investors in creating total loss-absorbing capacity-eligible green bonds.

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. We seem to set a new record every day, despite our economic picture improving at the same pace. However, on Wednesday, US equities retreated, as many investors listened to pundits warnings, reassessing stock valuations in light of global economic risks, as well as surging COVID-19 numbers and concurrent retreat of Central Banks from pandemic bailouts.

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates).

09/08/21  35,031.07

08/13/21  35,515.38

07/14/21  34,933.23

07/01/21  34,633.53

05/12/21  33,587.66

03/31/21  32,981.55

01/13/21   31,060.47

12/31/20   30,606.48

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/22/20   27,005.84

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/08/20   27,572.44

6/03/20     26,269.89

5/27/20     25,548.27

4/17/20     24,242.49

3/23/20    18,591.93

3/03/20     25,917.41

2/12/20     29,551.42 record high

S&P 500 has closed on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58

12/26/18 at 2,467.70

12/06/19 at 3,145.91

02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 2,237.40

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/13/21 at 3,809.84

02/03/21 at 3,830.17

02/16/21 at 3,923.59

03/05/21 at 3,841.94

03/31/21 at 3,972.89

05/12/21 at 4,063.04

07/01/21 at 4,319.94

07/14/21 at 4,374.30

08/13/21 at 4,468.00

09/09/21 at 4,493.28

S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record high today!

Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

12/06/19 at 8,656.07

02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 6,860.67

06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/13/21 at 13,128.95

02/03/21 at 13,610.54

02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high

03/05/21 at 12,920.15

03/31/21 at 13,246.87

05/12/21 at 13,031.68

07/01/21 at 14,522.38

07/14/21 at 14,644.95

08/13/21 at 14,822.90

09/08/21 at 15,286.64 new record high

The US Treasury market is focused not only on Inflation, but more importantly, the Debt Ceiling. In fact, I could write about the Debt Ceiling in almost every section of this Commentary, except maybe Sports and Entertainment. Treasury Secretary and former Fed Chair Yellen just warned Congress that the US could default on debt as early as October (about a month or two before experts have been predicting).

2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

02/06/20 at 1.44%

03/11/20 at 0.50%

03/17/20 at 0.47%

03/23/20 at 0.28%

05/10/20 at 0.16%

07/24/20 at 0.14%

12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/13/21 at 0.14%

02/03/21 at 0.11%

02/16/21 at 0.11%

03/05/21 at 0.14%

03/31/21 at 0.16%

05/12/21 at 0.16%

07/01/21 at 0.25% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.23%

08/13/21 at 0.23% back to 7/14 level, after having fallen 2 weeks ago to 0.17%

09/09/21 at 0.23%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

12/06/19 at 1.64%

02/06/20 at 1.43%

03/11/20 at 0.58%

03/17/20 at 0.54%

03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.21%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!

01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!

01/13/21 at 0.22%

02/16/21 at 0.17%

03/05/21 at 0.32%

03/31/21 at 0.35%

05/12/21 at 0.35%

07/01/21 at 0.47% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.44%

08/13/21 at 0.44% which ignores that it hit 0.33% on 08/02/21

09/09/21 at 0.43%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

02/07/20 at 1.45%

03/11/20 at 0.66%

03/17/20 at 0.56%

03/23/20 at 0.38%

03/26/20 at 0.51%

03/31/20 at 0.37%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/13/21 at 0.48%

02/03/21 at 0.46%

02/16/21 at 0.42%

03/05/21 at 0.79%

03/31/21 at 0.92%

05/12/21 at 0.87%

07/01/21 at 0.89% not much increase

07/14/21 at 0.80%

08/13/21 at 0.79% it hit 0.65% on 08/03/21

09/09/21 at 0.79%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

02/06/20 at 1.56%

03/11/20 at 0.78%

03/17/20 at 0.91%

03/23/20 at 0.63%

03/26/20 at 0.72%

03/31/20 at 0.55%

07/24/20 at 0.44% record low

11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/13/21 at 0.80%

02/03/21 at 0.81%

02/16/21 at 0.76%

03/05/21 at 1.23%

03/31/21 at 1.40%

05/12/21 at 1.34%

07/01/21 at 1.24%

07/14/21 at 1.11%

08/13/21 at 1.08% hit 0.95% on 08/03/21

09/09/21 at 1.08%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65%

12/06/19 at 1.84%

02/06/20 at 1.65%

03/11/20 at 0.82% wow!

03/17/20 at 1.02%

03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again

07/24/20 at 0.59% record low

11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/13/21 at 1.10%

02/03/21 at 1.15%

02/16/21 at 1.09%

03/05/21 at 1.56%

03/31/21 at 1.74%

05/12/21 at 1.69%

07/01/21 at 1.48%

07/14/21 at 1.37%

08/13/21 at 1.29% hit 1.19% on 08/03/21

09/09/21 at 1.30%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

02/06/20 at 2.11%

03/11/20 at 1.30%

03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!

03/23/20 at 1.33% back down

07/24/20 at 1.23% record low

11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/13/21 at 1.82%

02/03/21 at 1.92%

02/16/21 at 1.84%

03/05/21 at 2.28%

03/31/21 at 2.41%

05/12/21 at 2.40%

07/01/21 at 2.07% dramatic drop almost below magic 2%

07/14/21 at 1.98%

08/13/21 at 1.94% although it hit 1.83% on 08/04/21

09/09/21 at 1.90%

Housing News:

Well, it’s finally over. Wall Street doesn’t really exist anymore in lower Manhattan. Through globalization, bankruptcies, mergers, and pandemic-forced remote work, Wall Street as the financial capital of the world is no longer a physical thing. It is a metaphorical notion now, as Deutsche Bank, the last of the large investment banks, has decided to move from their 60 Wall Street location to a new midtown Manhattan location. It’s the end of an era, ironically two decades after 9/11, when it was the financial hub. I don’t think the two things are related, just an odd coincidence. When I started in the industry in 1982, when you said you “worked on Wall Street” you actually physically were located somewhere near Wall Street.

Repo/Securities Financing News:                               

One thing that I missed and my friend Scott Skrym brings to my attention, in the fine print of the FOMC minutes, was mention for the first time in a long time of the Standing Repo Facility (SRF). It should be thought of as a Reverse Repo from the perspective of the Federal Reserve: it will give out cash and take in collateral. This is similar in direction to the Discount Window and the O/N and Term RPs that the Fed has been doing with Primary Dealers. It is the OPPOSITE of the direction of the RRP program, in which the Fed takes cash from money funds and others and gives out collateral from its portfolio.  Basically, the SRF rate would be set at the top of the Fed Funds target range (currently that would be 0.25%), would be available at first only to the Primary Dealers, eventually extended to approved counterparties. There are some problems with the rate and the potential flood of collateral the Fed could receive on a daily basis, the opposite of the amount of cash the Fed is currently getting dumped on it on a daily basis. It also calls into question the term that the Fed has avoided in the 39 years that I’ve been in the industry, and that is to become “Lender of Last Resort”. I’m sure we will hear much more about this in the future from the Fed. If you want to hear my detailed musings on the Federal Reserve, cash in the money markets, what tools are at the Fed’s disposal (especially RRP and SRF), what I think it could do for interest rates, the debt ceiling impact, and latest developments in the Repo Market, please watch my one hour+ tutorial in Pierpoint Alpha Community with Roy Zimmerhansl.

Securities Lending Times reports that State Street is acquiring its Boston neighbor and former competitor, BBH Investor Services business, which includes its Securities Lending, custody, accounting, fund administration, global markets, and technology services for $3.5 billion. DTCC’s FICC CCP has launched sponsored GC service, executed by Federated Hermes, BNY Mellon, and JP Morgan Securities, enabling the centrally cleared repo transactions to settle on BNY Mellon’s triparty repo system. You are used to me trumpeting the benefits of peer-to-peer financing for years, but Securities Lending Times has a feature article about peer-to-peer securities lending. Are hedge funds who are short now able to borrow directly from beneficial owners of those securities and bypass the broker/dealers?

If you haven’t already, you must read this eye-opening article Mary Fricker posted on 8/22/21 on her Repowatch.org website entitled, “Yep, the 2020s feel like the 1920s”. The contrasts and comparisons between those two years and others, particularly 1907 and 2007, are thought-provoking. There are so many curious coincidences that the Federal Reserve did a study on the parallels between 1907 and 2007 in their own 2014 paper, the history of the panic of 1907.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. 

The next FOMC meetings are:  09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in.

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight. Note that the Fed has the nomenclature backwards, it is actually Repoing securities out of the Reverse Repo Program and taking cash IN from its perspective. As if Repo nomenclature, bid and offer, and acronyms weren’t hard enough for everybody. Since its inception in 2014, the balances in RRP have AVERAGED about $30-50 billion. Because of major dislocations of liquidity on the cash side of the Money Markets, lately the RRP balances have been setting daily records, over $1 trillion. The Money Markets have enormous amounts of cash sloshing around, unable to find Repo (collateral) at broker/dealers to invest in, and unable to find short-term US Treasury bills to buy. So, they have invested with the Federal Reserve. If Repo collateral actually becomes even less available, because there is further delay on raising the Debt Ceiling by Congress (US Treasury is estimated to run out of room/money sometime in November or December 2021), unless the Fed begins Tapering their QE monthly purchases of $80 billion US Treasuries and $40 billion Agency MBS. Of course, those two actions have many other consequences elsewhere. The latter would likely raise interest rates, counter to current Monetary Policy, and the former would bring back the question of the credit quality of the US Government and change the prices of those outright securities, further raising interest rates and making the payment of interest on outstanding US debt more expensive.

At the 7/28 FOMC meeting, the Fed focused on progress on vaccinations and indicators of economic growth and employment continuing to strengthen. But, it said the sectors most effected by the pandemic have shown improvement but haven’t fully recovered. The Fed specifically linked the path of the economy to the path of the virus.  It cited that risks to the economic outlook remain. Pointing at its mandate for maximum employment and controlled inflation at about 2%, the Fed said that it would continue to maintain an accommodative stance on monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved. It kept the target Fed Funds rate at 0.00-0.25%.

The FOMC also issued an additional statement regarding “Repurchase Agreement Arrangements”. It announced the establishment of a domestic Standing Repo Facility (SRF) (which I discussed above) and a repo facility for foreign and international monetary authorities (FIMA Repo Facility). This latter facility was new to me. Both facilities are intended to be backstops to the money market. So, we received more detailed information at this FOMC: the SRF will have daily O/N repo operations against US Treasuries, Agency Debentures, and Agency MBS pools, with a maximum total size of $500 billion. The minimum bid rate for repos under the facility will be the top end of the Fed Funds range, currently 0.25%, which is currently ABOVE the general level of O/N Repo Rates.  Again, let’s make sure we understand the backward nomenclature. Although the Fed is referring to this facility as Repo, they are actually taking IN Collateral and putting OUT cash (which you and I know is the definition of a Reverse Repo from our or the Fed’s perspective). The initial counterparties will be their 22 Primary Dealers, which we knew, and be expanded to other ‘depository institutions.’ Hmmm, I think that just means banks and credit unions, and could still not give access to other needy collateral providers like asset managers, hedge funds, REITs, insurance companies, municipalities, pension funds, etc. Hopefully, I am wrong about that. The FIMA repo facility will actually operate a little easier, as the Fed will enter into O/N reverse repos as needed with foreign official institutions against their holding of US Treasuries already maintained in custody at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, mostly in the SOMA accounts. That rate will also be 0.25% now and the per counterparty limit will be $60 billion. This facility could be key for these institutions to receive US dollar funding, when propping up their own currencies, rather than selling their US Treasuries outright.

So, just reviewing only these 2 tools in the ever-expanding toolbox of the Federal Reserve (in addition to the 5 tools/programs from the Financial Crisis, which are dormant), it will potentially look like this:

SRF/FIMA facility=Collateral in to Fed and Cash out to broker/dealers, banks, international monetary authorities, depository institutions

RRP=Cash in to Fed and Collateral out to broker/dealers, depository institutions, money funds, GSEs

On a Broker/Dealer Balance Sheet, that looks just like a Repo Matched Book:

Reverse Repo=Collateral into B/D and Cash out

Repo=Cash into B/D and Collateral out

The differences are that the size of the Fed’s matched programs are likely going to be much larger than any B/D Repo Matched Book (since at least 2007), the B/D does not get to set the Bid rate at 0.25% and Offer rate at 0.05% for a 20bp bid/offer spread/return, the B/D is likely making Repo markets to a more expanded group of sectors of clients, and the B/D is now operating under dozens of strict regulations.

The Fed’s Williams just suggested that QE Tapering could start by year-end 2021. A research paper prepared by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco President Mary Daly and others argues that inequities of employment, education and earnings across US ethnic groups “add up to a smaller economic pie for the nation as a whole,” with an estimated cost to the US of up to $51 trillion since 1990. The paper hypothesizes what would have happened if such inequities were erased and less favored ethnic groups had been able to make a full contribution to the workforce and GDP. Fed President of Dallas and Fed President of Boston have both decided to sell their individual stock holdings and place their investments in passive products to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. Activity seems to be picking up, especially on both sides of the Pacific Rim:

09/10 4.7 ESE of Hualien City, Taiwan

09/10 5.1 West Chile Rise

09/10 4.6 SE of Calana, Peru

09/09 4.7 ESE of Katsuren-haebaru, Japan

09/09 5.0 NE of Anse-Bertrand, Guadeloupe

09/09 4.7 S of the Fiji Islands

09/09 4.5 NE of Hotan, China

09/09 4.5 SE of Jurm, Afghanistan

09/09 4.5 ENE of Levuka, Fiji

09/09 5.1 S of False Pass, Alaska

09/09 4.7 WSW of Puerto Santa, Peru

09/09 4.5 N of Yigo Village, Guam

09/09 4.6 West Chile Rise

Weather:

Per the National Interagency Fire Center, currently 78 large fires or complexes have burned more than 1.9 million acres in 10 States (Idaho, Montana, Washington, California, Oregon, Wyoming, Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, and Utah).  Northern California continues to burn most actively, with the Caldor, Dixie, Monument, River Complex, and McCash consuming thousands of acres.  26 Type 1 and Type 2 incident management teams and more than 23,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel have been assigned to incidents. The Dixie Fire and Caldor Fire have scorched a gigantic area, destroyed homes and even entire towns, and has even leapt over the Sierra Nevada mountains to start burning on the down slope. Wildfire in Oregon has claimed the historic Bull of the Woods fire lookout. As the Caldor Fire has slowed, 3 new wildfires have ignited in California. Despite media reports, official records of NIFC show that 2021 has yet to set a record for the most fires or the most acres burned. It is worse than last year already, but nowhere near 2011, 2012, and 2015. Here is something interesting, researchers say that water droplets are more abundant in clouds affected by wildfire smoke but, surprisingly, those clouds are less likely to produce rain to help put out fires and may contribute to the drought conditions in the West.  So, the smoke actually may prevent the clouds from putting out the wildfires?

As for weather in the nation, a cold front is pushing south from Canada into the central Plains and Great Lakes, driving below average temperatures throughout that area. Well above normal (dangerous) temperatures will continue across the West.  Isolated thunderstorms are expected in Oregon and Washington. The Northeast will begin to cool down significantly. Florida will remain hot and humid, with Heat Indices in the 100-110 degree range. Beach water temperature is currently 84-88 degrees, very high, and fuel for hurricanes.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGAN June 1st and ends November 30th.  According to CNN, one thing about 2020 that people didn’t notice during the pandemic is that hurricane forecasts improved. Focus is now on size and speed of the approaching storm and the critical “cone of uncertainty”, which affects a certain population. 2021 was expected by the NOAA to be an Active hurricane season. They expected a likely range of 13-20 named storms (winds of 39mph or higher). They expected 6-10 of them to be Hurricanes, and of that 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger.  NOAA revised those numbers slightly higher. Now they predict 15-21 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes, of which still 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger. Hurricane Ida, swiftly went from a Category 1 storm to a Category 4 Hurricane when it made landfall in Louisiana, picking up strength from the very warm Gulf of Mexico.  Although is had sustained winds of 130-156 mph at landfall, and caused a lot of damage, the real problem became the torrential rain and instant flooding, as it cut a swath across many states as it headed to the Northeast.  President Biden has now toured damage caused by Hurricane Ida in Louisiana, New Jersey, and New York. He actually got a hostile reception in NJ. Flooding killed at least 50 people in the Northeast. About 14,000 people were displaced when Hurricane Ida battered one Louisiana parish, destroying about 75% of the structures there, and cut off an entire barrier island. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without power in Louisiana. 

The next focus is on fierce Hurricane Larry which is churning across the Atlantic Ocean. Some experts believe it could be even stronger than Ida and could cause life-threatening surf. Maximum sustained winds are already 125mph. Currently, the models forecast for Larry to miss the East Coast of North America, but it may hit Bermuda.

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. In the Eastern North Pacific. A new Tropical Depression has formed offshore of Southwestern Mexico and is expected to become a Tropical Storm.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has just proclaimed “a code red for humanity.” This is the unequivocal consensus of the world’s top climate scientists, per Bloomberg, who revealed in a report Monday that, not only are humans responsible for the catastrophes befalling the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice packs, and the forests, but that without drastic moves by the planet’s leaders to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution, things are going get a lot worse soon. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the crucial warming threshold of 2 degrees Centigrade will be exceeded during the 21st Century. In addition, the report says that the past decade was most likely hotter than any period in the last 125,000 years, and combustion and deforestation have raised CO2 in the atmosphere higher than it’s been in two million years.

Sports News:       

MLB:

In the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series.

For 2021, MLB is heading towards the Playoffs, with teams jockeying for first place in their Division or for one of the two Wild Card spots for each League.  i

Current standings (09/07), after about 136-140 games (about 22 games to play):

AL EAST the Rays have been winning at a remarkable rate and have held off the Yankees and my Red Sox. The Red Sox bullpen has not helped, blowing a 7-1 lead over the Rays and ultimately losing 11-10 in the 10th inning, on Monday, then allowing 12 runs to the Rays on Tuesday.  The Yankees, after a 13-game winning streak, have fallen on hard times, losing 7 of 10 games, and are only ½ game ahead of the Red Sox for the first and second Wild Card spots. I’m actually going to a Yankees @ Red Sox game on 9/23, when I am up in Boston. Which has now brought the red-hot Blue Jays into the equation, now 2 games behind the Yankees, with the Mariners 3 games back, and the A’s 3.5 games back.  Unfortunately, at this point, I have to root for the Red Sox vs the Yankees in a brutal one-game Wild Card playoff, as the Rays seem too far ahead.

Tampa Bay

NY Yankees

Boston

Toronto

Baltimore

AL CENTRAL this began as the runaway division for the White Sox, who never let up. They still enjoy a 10 game lead over the Indians, so have started limiting their starters’ pitching. 

Chicago WS

Cleveland

Detroit

Kansas City

Minnesota

AL WEST the Astros have continued to hold the lead for the Division, and the Mariners just leapfrogged over the suddenly struggling A’s. That also puts the Mariners now as the team chasing the Yankees and Red Sox for those 2 Wild Card spots.

Houston

Seattle

Oakland
LA Angels

Texas

NL EAST this division continues to underperform, which leaves three teams still in the running.  The Phillies relinquished their lead to the Braves and trail the Braves now by 2.5 games (as of 9/8). The Mets trail the Braves by 4 games. The Nationals, who threw in the towel at the trade deadline, have now been leapfrogged by the lowly Marlins. It wasn’t long ago that the Nats beat the Astros in the World Series (2019)…

Atlanta

Philadelphia

NY Mets

Miami

Washington

NL CENTRAL The Brewers are holding on to first place by 11 games over the Reds, who just lost 7 of their last 10, while the Cards are 13 ½ games behind, and the Cubs became sellers at the trade deadline and begin their rebuilding. The Pirates are 34.5 games back of the Brewers. The Reds are tied with the Padres for the Wild Card first spot and second spot. The Phillies are 2 games behind and the Mets and Cardinals are both 3.5 games behind. So, this Wild Card race is also made up of 5 teams, like the AL Wild Card race. Although I see MLB’s intention to please the fans by making more teams involved in the Playoffs, I still don’t like the one-game do-or-die game between the two Wild Card teams (and don’t get me started on the Little League-like putting a runner on 2nd base in extra innings new rule!).

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

St. Louis

Chicago Cubs

Pittsburgh

NL WEST the World Champion Dodgers looked like they would run away with the division, but the Giants said ‘hold my beer’. Plenty of analysts said that the Giants were not good enough to hold first place, but they have held first place and are 1 game ahead of the Dodgers. Led by teams with the two best records in MLB, this high-flying division has put the Diamondbacks in the rearview mirror, behind first place by 44 games.

San Francisco

LA Dodgers

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

Golf:

The PGA Tour 2020-2021 season was an expanded one, due to COVID-19 related cancellations and postponements, mostly in 202. Although most touring pros play between 20 and 30 tournaments in the season, the actual season was comprised of an expanded 50 official PGA events. The 14th event was a stunning sight, with DeChambeau and Cantlay dueling in a 6-hole playoff at the BMW Championship, with Cantlay winning. This was the 2nd tournament of the 3 tournament finale to the season, leading up to the Tour Championship final, held this year at EastLake in Sea Island, GA. Once again, I have to say (just as I said about MLB’s new rule for extra innings advantage), I don’t like the spotting golfers extra shots in the Final. Because Cantlay beat DeChambeau, he was able to start the Tour Championship at -10 and DeChambeau at -7. The top 30 golfers from the first two tournaments were eligible to play in the Tour Championship. I use the word ‘eligible’ because, No.30 was barely able to play, after recovering from severe symptoms from COVID-19, including double pneumonia, and Koepka hurt himself during the tournament and had to withdraw, pushing him down to No.30. It still earned him over $395,000, as this is the most lucrative (by far) golf tournament in the world. Anyway, back to the action, another exciting tournament, which came down to the wire, this time with Hahm and Cantlay battling it out. Each putt was worth $millions and the tension was very high. In the end, the 18th hole, Hahm missed his longer putt and Cantlay made his, to make Cantlay the 2021 PGA FedEx Champion. Cantlay received a check for $15 million for winning and Hahm received a check for  a measly $5 million (still way more than any winner of any tournament during the season). In theory, Hahm’s putt (and a few on holes before the 18th) was worth $10 million! That’s a serious kneeknocker!!! Only a short time ago, $15 million was a great PGA Tour player’s career!  Golf is not over yet, however, as we have the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort and Spa North in Napa, CA. we still have the very-hyped Ryders Cup competition between the US and Europe, to be battled out in Match-Play format on one of my favorite courses that I’ve played, Whistling Straits in Sheboygan, WI (I thought it was actually in Kohler, and there are actually 3 courses there).

NFL:

The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV, which was played in Tampa Bay, with the Bucs beating the Chiefs 31-9. Preseason games begin next week. Despite surges in COVID-19 cases and deaths all over the country, the NFL is sticking with their plans to fill their stadiums with fans. The 2021 NFL season began last night with the Superbowl Champion Bucs playing the Cowboys. The Bucs beat the Cowboys in a sloppy, penalty-filled, defense-devoid game that had a seesaw score.  Eventually, the Bucs nipped the Cowboy 31-29, despite being favored by 10 points.  Cowboy’s kicker, Zuerlein, missed a point after and two field goals. Bucs QB Tom Brady released the football on his passes in an average 0.33 seconds!  That’s why he rarely gets hit or pressured. For those Washington Football Team fans, apparently the options for the new name are: Defenders, Commanders, Presidents, Armada, Redhawks, Brigade, and just leaving it as is.

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing. However, for various reasons, Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and Serena have dropped out of matches in July and August, implying that the 4 already all-time greats will not play a match at the big Canada or Cincinnati tournaments, which leaves their US Open prospects in question. Now, regarding Djokovic, he has won all 3 of the Slams this year, a feat not done in a single year since Rod Laver in 1969. Also, after winning Wimbledon, he then played at the Olympics, so he wouldn’t be going into the US Open cold. Federer is 40 and while he did come back this year, his record has been 9-4, and he has been questioning (out loud) how much more he will play. Nadal has a nagging foot injury and 39-year-old Serena has an ankle injury from Wimbledon. Let’s not forget Osaka either, who not only withdrew from Wimbledon, but has also already withdrawn from Montreal.  She was ousted at the US Open and announced that she will now take some time off from tennis and work on her mental health. In the end, this weekend’s Women’s Finals at the US Open will feature two relatively unknown and unranked players, Emma Readucanu, 18, and Leyla Fernandez, 19. On the Men’s side, No.1 Djokovic beat No.6 seed Berrettini in the quarter-finals, while No.4 Zverev won his quarterfinals match against Harris. On Tuesday, No.2 Medvedev beat his opponent in his quarterfinals and No.12 Auger-Aliassime won his match.

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion, undefeated Gonzaga.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the asterisk season (last season) on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude the same season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans.

The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but was only 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic.

It was an exciting Playoffs, despite the odd configuration of the Divisions to be less traveling for the players and more COVID-19 aware. The Cinderella team this year, but perennial Stanley Cup winners in the old days, the Montreal Canadiens, ran into a rough Tampa Bay Lightning team and a goalie who was on fire. They wound up losing in 5 games, 4-1, to the Lightning, who repeated their Stanley Cup victory from last year.

The Penguins will be without their star, captain Sidney Crosby, for the start of the season, as he just underwent wrist surgery. The Florida Panthers offered endorsement deals Wednesday to every female college athlete at nearby FAU. Patrice Bergeron said he does not plan to make a decision about re-signing with the Boston Bruins until after this season. The US Hockey Hall of Fame Class for 2021 was just announced and Holmgren, McNab, and Fischler are going to be inducted, along with the 2020 class, who were not inducted last year because of the pandemic. David Backes officially retired, after signing a one-day contract with the Blues. He had been selected by the Blues in the 2003 NHL Draft and played 10 seasons there.

NBA:

The NBA season tipped off more than two months later than usual on 12/22/20. The Suns beat the Bucks for the Championship. The Suns were a last place team only a few seasons ago. Two-time NBA champion JR Smith is heading to college, with his eyes set on playing golf professionally. NBA All-Star Andre Drummond saves his 2-year-old son who fell into a swimming pool. The Celtics and Dennis Schroder agree on 1year/$5.9 million deal.  He had turned down a lucrative extension a year ago from the Lakers. 2021 MGM Resorts Summer League is continuing. LiAngelo Ball is playing in the League with hopes to get back in the NBA.  The NBA Hall of Fame is ready for its induction of: undrafted Ben Wallace, Chris Bosh, Chris Webber, Bill Russell as coach, and Paul Pearce.

Auto Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. NASCAR and iRacing announced an official partnership. Gordon said he is retiring from Penske at end of 2021. Six teams were fined after Pocono race. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:

02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon

02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell

02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell

02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron

03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson

03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.

03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney

03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano

04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-Martin Truex Jr.

04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Bowman

04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-Keselowski

05/02/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas-Kyle Busch

05/09/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington-Martin Truex Jr.

05/16/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover, Drydene 400-Alex Bowman

05/23/21 NASCAR Cup Series at COTA, EchoPark Texas GP-Chase Elliott

05/30/21 Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/06/21 Toyota Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway-Kyle Larson

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Open, Texas Motor Speedway-Aric Almirola

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Race, Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/20/21 Ally 400, Nashville Superspeedway-Kyle Larson

06/26/21 Pocono Organics CBD 325-Alex Bowman

06/27/21 Explore the Pocono Mountains 350-Kyle Busch

07/04/21 Jockey Made in America 250 by Kwik Trip-Chase Elliott

07/11/21 Quaker State 400 by Walmart-Kurt Busch

07/18/21 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-Aric Almirola

08/08/21 Go Bowling at The Glen-Kyle Larson

08/15/21 Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard-Allmendinger

08/22/21 Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan-Blaney

08/28/21 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona-Blaney

09/05/21 Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington-Hamlin

Formula One began 2020 with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:

03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen

04/18/21-Italy-Verstappen edged Hamilton

05/02/21-Portugal-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/09/21-Spain-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/23/21-Monaco-Verstappen

06/06/21-Azerbaijan-Perez

06/20/21-France-Verstappen

06/27/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/04/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/18/21-Great Britain-Hamilton

08/01/21-Hungary-Ocon

08/29/21-Belgium-Verstappen

09/05/21-Netherlands-Verstappen

09/12/21-Italy-

09/26/21-Russia-

10/03/21-Singapore-

10/10/21-Japan-

10/24/21-United States

10/31/21-Mexico-

11/07/21-Brazil-

11/21/21-Australia-

12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-

12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-

IndyCar Racing circuit (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:

04/18/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park-Alex Palou

04/25/21-St. Petersburg Street Course-Colton Herta

05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 1-Scott Dixon

05/02/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 2-Pato O’Ward

05/15/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1-Rinus Veekay

05/30/21-Indy 500-Helio Castronoves

06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 1-Marcus Ericsson

06/13/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 2-Pato O’Ward

06/20/21-Road America-Alex Palou

07/04/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course-Josef Newgarden

07/11/21-Toronto Exhibition Place-cancelled

08/08/21-Nashville Street Course-Marcus Ericsson

08/14/21-Indianapolis GP 2-Pato O’Ward

08/21/21-Gateway Motorsports Park-Josef Newgarden

09/12/21-Portland International Raceway

09/19/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

09/26/21-Streets of Long Beach

Travel News:

Bill Gates has done a deal with Alwaleed and taken over Four Seasons. Several leading US airlines warned yesterday that the rise in COVID-19 cases as part of the latest wave is hurting their bookings and further delaying the travel industry’s recovery. A man called 911 to report a Tesla hit him and that he suffered back, leg and neck injuries, but the car’s cameras actually told a different story.

Health News:  

Okay, there is a lot to cover here. I am trying to be as neutral as I can and only reporting the news items I see, and not giving my bias about vaccinations. 

As of this today (9/10), globally, over 4.6 million people have died from COVID-19.  More than 223,000,000 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 40.6 million people (a huge jump of over 5 million since I wrote last 8/13), and are rising with the Delta variant and slowdown of vaccinations. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 654,806 (a jump of more than 34,000 since 8/13). The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (585,174), India (442,009), Mexico (266,150), Peru (198,621), Russia (187,768), and UK (134,166). 533 people were confirmed infected at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and not deaths reported. Singapore has just touched a one-year high in number of COVID-19 cases and Japan is planning to extend emergency measures in Tokyo, Osaka, and 17 other prefectures. Global inoculation program Covax has cut its 2021 supply forecast by more than 25%. The WHO says “Too little action” has been taken in achieving vaccine equity. It is still advising the US to not administer booster shots until more countries have gotten at least the first vaccine shot. Scientists are concerned about the proliferation of COVID-19 variants in Africa and the possibility that that could lead to vaccine-proof mutations of the virus. That would then possibly derail the global efforts to end the pandemic. The slow rollouts of first and second vaccine shots throughout Africa leave time for mutations to occur, which is what WHO is most concerned about.

A new report says that some 100,000 more Americans are likely to die of COVID-19 this year. Deaths could climb even more if the hospital ERs and ICUs remain as swamped as they are now across the country. In Florida, a record for new cases of COVID-19 and single day of deaths from COVID-19 was broken, going back to March 2020, the beginning of the pandemic. The US Government is launching a new six-part plan to combat the COVID-19 pandemic amid that national spike in new cases, which are now averaging some 150,000 new cases per day. The strategy includes putting more pressure on the private and public sectors to enforce stricter vaccine mandates and testing rules, providing booster shots to vaccinated Americans, keeping schools open, and improving care for COVID-19 patients. Anecdotally, down here in Florida there is a huge debate about whether children should have to wear masks to school or not, as the first week of school resulted in hundreds of positive tests in Palm Beach County Schools. A state judge in Florida has issued an uncommon ruling against Governor DeSantis’ decision to ban schools requiring students to wear masks.  Now, schools cat start legally requiring the wearing of masks. Also, I now have several friends who have become “breakthrough” cases, having been fully vaccinated, yet contracting COVID-19 anyways, although the symptoms have not been as extreme. The biggest question out their perhaps is whether the Delta variant of COVID-19 causes more severe illness than the earlier versions of COVID-19 virus? It is clearly more contagious. More and more American companies are mandating that their employees be vaccinated. US President Biden is ordering all executive branch employees, federal contractors, and millions of health-care workers to be vaccinated.  He is also directing his administration to issue new rules saying large private employers must require shots or testing, as the Delta variant continues to sicken and kill Americans by the thousands.

Now that the Governor of Texas has signed a new law prohibiting abortions after six-week term of pregnancy, counter to the Federal law, the US Justice Department has sued the State of Texas over their abortion law.  

Animal News:

A Florida woman was attacked by a shark in the Bahamas. The debate has been going on for decades, but archaeologists, while agreeing that genomes of Native Americans show that their ancestors may have come to North America more than 15,000 years ago, still disagree on whether they migrated by land or sea from the Eurasia region. Tyrannosaurus Rex was not always the apex predator. Researchers have discovered a new genus and species that loomed large before T-Rex, called Ulughbegsaurus uzbekistanensis. It was from the lower Upper Cretaceous of Central Asia and lived about 90 million years ago.  It had a mass of over 2200 lbs and was probably 7.5-8 meters in length, larger than a full-grown African elephant.

Entertainment News:

John Lennon’s iconic song, “Imagine”, turned 50-years-old. NBC just set a record for Super Bowl television ad rates at $6.5 million. Kylie Jenner confirmed that she is pregnant with her second child.  Cedric the Entertainer will host the Emmys. Shaquille ONeal has been out of the NBA for 7 seasons, yet his endorsement portfolio increases in size. In the years since his retirement alone, he has appeared in ads for Buick, IcyHot, AriZona beverages, Pizza Hut, Gold Bond, The General, Epson ink, Zales, and many other companies. Shaq said in an interview on Tuesday on HBO that he actually makes more money on endorsements and investments than he made in salary during his playing days. He said his best year during his playing years was about $30 million and now he’s making considerably more annually. In fact, one marketing deal as paid him about $100 million over the last 2 ½ years. He is estimated to have net worth of over $450 million. He is also still paid as an NBA commentator for ESPN. Lucifer finally comes to its end on Netflix. Patton Oswalt cancels his shows in Florida and Utah, saying the venues would not comply with his COVID-19 safety precautions. Lorde has rerecorded 5 “Solar Power” songs in Maori language. Phil Collins is reportedly suffering from health problems and can “barely hold” his drum sticks. Pat Sajak and Vanna White have reupped their contracts with Wheel of Fortune. Dancing With the Stars has revealed its Season 30 cast. Janet Jackson has released a teaser for her upcoming documentary. THE MATRIX 4 has posted its first footage to an interactive fan site. Howard Stern says to anti-vaxxers, “You had the cure and you wouldn’t take it.” Art Mertrano, the star of POLICE ACADEMY movies has died at 84. Lil Uzi Vert says that fans ripped a $24 million diamond out of his forehead? Actor Michael K. Williams has died suddenly.  They have announced the 2021 TV cancellations, to the dismay of many fans. Netflix has cancelled: White Lines, Transparent, Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Mom, Schitt’s Creek, Into the Badlands, Glow, Vikings, Broad City, The Affair, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, and Ballers. Other notable TV shows cancelled: Black Lightning, Brooklyn 99, Castle Rock, Superstore, Carmen Sandiego, Insecure, Kim’s Confidence, The Bold Type, MacGyver, Peaky Blinders, High Maintenance, American Gods, NCIS: New Orleans, Better Call Saul, Last Man Standing, Ellen Degeneres Show, etc.

I used to do Movie Reviews in the Repo Commentary, especially when I lived at 67th/Broadway above a multiple cinema. Then I would see about 100 films per year. Now, especially with COVID-19, I only see movies by buying them on TV. But, I have seen a few in December 2020 and in 2021:

RESPECT                          9.0 (out of 10)

NOBODY                            8.0

NEWS OF THE WORLD 7.5

STILLWATER                    7.0

WONDER WOMAN 84    6.0

I’m sorry, but I don’t know where to put this rant of mine, so I’m blaming all the newscasters on TV. Two very common practices (just watch Today or any news broadcast) now are: not using the adverb and saying double pronouns. For example, when the sportscaster says, “boy he hit that one square, or hit that one strong”, or the “things developed slow”, rather than correctly using the adverbs: squarely, strongly, and slowly. The double pronoun usage is actually more prevalent now, with almost every single newscaster doing it. “President Biden, he said today…”. “The woman arrested today she said…” “The firefighters, they are unable to control the wildfire.”  I noticed this habit about 2 years ago, before COVID-19, and it has spread just like the pandemic. Okay, now that I’ve got that off my chest, can we all stop saying, “Just do you.” I’m not sure if that is for encouragement, self-awareness, or some higher consciousness. Wouldn’t we naturally “do me” as I don’t know how to “do you” or “them”? Isn’t that what we have been doing all along? Maybe a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder “does us”? I’m sure that the late George Carlin would be asking, “What does ‘do you’ mean anyway?” Impersonate yourself? Think of yourself first? Act like yourself and have your whole being become public? Complete yourself first, before attempting to criticize others?  Be the ball?

Technology & Space News:

I thought this was interesting, Sci-Hub, a website where scientific studies that are usually locked behind paywalls are shared for free. The website is almost always under legal threat, but still has managed to upload more than 2 million new articles. This is also cool, JP Morgan has just signed a deal with Volkswagen to acquire an equity interest in the carmaker’s payments business. JP Morgan is trying to stay ahead of the curve in anticipation of auto manufacturers installing technology in cars that allows motorists to pay for automotive expenses such as gasoline and tolls from within their cars, according to Reuters.  Hmmm, in unrelated news (maybe) Apple’s Watch software chief has taken over its car project as well.  Scientific American reports that the Waves to Water competition to use small-scale wave energy devices to desalinate water is entering its 5th and final stage, testing the devices in the “Drink” phase. The resulting innovations could make a big difference for disaster relief efforts, allowing responders to make drinkable water from ocean water. It also could mean bigger things ahead for wave energy technology. In Iceland’s barren landscape, a new container-like structure has risen alongside plumes of steam near a geothermal power plant. It is designed to reverse some of the damage carbon-dioxide emissions are doing to the planet and the ozone layer.  The facility, named Orca, will suck CO2 out of the air.

US News:

20 years after the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, the masterminds who are being held in prison at Guantanamo Bay, finally had a hearing on Wednesday, which resulted in yet another delay of justice, which has been playing out at least a decade. Did you know that FBI agents and most other Federal agents have licenses to carry concealed weapons anywhere in the US? An academic study reports that banks that helped facilitate the PPP loans ended up taking on more risk in other areas of lending, notably Q2 and Q3 of last year. Another study conducted by Qualtrics and published by Credit Karma found that 1/3 of buy now/pay later borrowers have missed one or more payments, and most borrowers saw their credit score decline. Younger consumers were more likely to have missed at least one payment. JPMorgan Chase will acquire the Infatuation, the parent company of restaurant guide Zagat, as the bank pushes to attract more high-end customers to its credit card business. American Express has again delayed its plans for returning staff to offices, with 1/24/22 the new target date, due to the pandemic.

International News:

In 2015, ISIS killed 130 people in Paris. The trial has finally begun. Ford will cease to make cars in India and will take a $2 billion charge for that. Another container ship ran aground blocking the Suez Canal, before being freed. Did you know that Mexico has no fighter jets?  For the first time since the United States’ disastrous and poorly planned evacuation from Afghanistan, leading to 13 soldiers’ and scores of civilian deaths, stranding at least 200 American citizens, and leaving $50-60 billion in US military equipment, an international passenger flight left Kabuls airport on Thursday. In Brazil, President Bolsonaro is temporarily banning social media companies from removing certain content, including its own disinformation. France will now offer free contraception to women up to 25-years-old.

Florida:

A former King’s Academy teacher in Palm Beach County and softball coach has died of COVID-19. Before the attacks of 9/11, the hijackers wandered around Palm Beach County, with 4 of them learning how to fly planes at a local flight school.

Jokes and Such:

Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J

A woman brought a very limp duck into a veterinary surgeon. As she laid her pet on the table, the vet pulled out his stethoscope and listened to the bird’s chest.

After a moment or two, the vet shook his head and sadly said, “I’m sorry, your duck, Cuddles, has passed away.”

The distressed woman wailed, “Are you sure?” “Yes, i’m sure. You’re duck is dead,” replied the vet.

“How can you be so sure?” she protested. “I mean you haven’t done any testing on him or anything. He might just be in a coma or something.”

The vet rolled his eyes, turned around and left the room. He returned a few minutes later with a black Labrador Retriever. As the duck’s owner looked on in amazement, the dog stood on his hind legs, put his front paws on the examination table and sniffed the duck from top to bottom. He then looked up at the vet with sad eyes and shook his head.

The vet patted the dog on the head and took him out of the room. A few minutes later he returned with a cat. The cat jumped up on the table and also delicately sniffed the bird from head to foot. The cat sat back on its haunches, shook its head, meowed softly and strolled out of the room.

The vet looked at the woman and said, “I’m sorry, but as I said, this is most definitely, 100% certifiably, a dead duck.”

The vet turned to his computer terminal, hit a few keys and produced a bill, which he handed to the woman.

The duck’s owner, still in shock, took the bill. “$150!” she cried, “$150 just to tell me my duck is dead?!”

The vet shrugged, “I’m sorry. If you had just taken my word for it, the bill would have been $20, but with the Lab Report and the Cat Scan, it’s now $150.”

Repo Commentary-08/13/21

I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/e education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo.

The Repo Commentary is back from a short break, while I was out in Colorado Springs for a certain, very close Green Beret’s beautiful wedding. 

I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. Although I have completed several projects (below) and am looking to lend my 39 years of expertise to firms via consulting or via full-time positions.

  • I have completed writing/recording/presenting the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals. Our new normal of e-Learning.
  • I am sharing my opinion and expertise with the industry in articles in various periodicals.
  • I am consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo.
  • I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums.

So, if you need my Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeff@kidwellconsultants.com) or (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested  in entertaining (70-80%) you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. You have more than enough stress already!  Feel free, as always, to send me information, comments or pictures, to make it better!

Holidays or Events (08/13):

  • It’s Friday the 13th
  • Blame Someone Else Day
  • International Left-Handers Day
  • National Filet Mignon Day
  • National Kool-Aid Day
  • National Prosecco Day
  • Skeptics Day International
  • Independence Day in Central African Republic
  • Women’s Day in Tunisia

On Monday, we remember icon Elvis Presley, who was found dead on August 16, 1977.

Some Famous People Born on (08/13):

  • 1860-Annie Oakley, American target shooter
  • 1866-Giovanni Agnelli, Italian businessman and founder of Fiat S.p.A
  • 1899-Alfred Hitchcock-English-American director and producer
  • 1902-Felix Wankel-German engineer
  • 1911-William Bernback, American advertiser, co-founded DDB Worldwide
  • 1912-Ben Hogan, American golfer and sportscaster
  • 1926-Fidel Castro, Cuban lawyer and President of Cuba
  • 1930-Don Ho, American singer and ukulele player
  • 1935-Mudcat Grant, American baseball player and my former coach
  • 1949-Bobby Clarke, Candian ice hockey player and manager
  • 1951-Dan Fogelberg, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1959-Danny Bonaduce, American actor and wrestler
  • 1970-Elvis Grbac, American football player and coach

Daily Weird Facts:

Finland is the world’s happiest country, according to the 2019 World Happiness Report.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”—Dalai Lama

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18

$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18

$48.63 on 01/07/19

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21

$66.34/barrel on 03/05

$61.30/barrel on 04/01

$63.68/barrel on 05/13

$72.25/barrel on 06/15

$74.86/barrel on 07/02, just where it was on 10/5/18 at the top of the list. What a roller coaster!

$72.30/barrel on 07/15

$68.03/barrel on 08/13

The price of Oil appears to have leveled off at these highs. Big Oil companies are blasting President Biden for turning to OPEC for more crude oil. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station jumped 6 cents in the past week, at $2.95/gallon. However, gasoline prices have been rising faster in surrounding areas (up to $3.79/gallon) and in other parts of the country.

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:

104.80 on 02/07/20

99.23 on 03/11/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

110.63 on 04/01/21

108.61 on 04/28/21

110.05 on 06/15/21

111.44 on 07/02/21

109.94 on 07/15/21

109.59 on 08/13/21

One Euro was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.1426

12/06/19 at $1.1688

03/11/20 at $1.1937

05/04/20 at $1.0903

12/16/20 at $1.2196

02/04/21 at $1.2625

04/01/21 at $1.1774

04/28/21 at $1.2123

07/02/21 at $1.1822

07/15/21 at $1.1806

08/13/21 at $1.1797

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.2655

12/06/19 at $1.3819

02/07/20 at $1.3574

03/24/20 at $1.2231

12/16/20 at $1.3494

02/16/21 at $1.3903

06/15/21 at $1.4083

07/02/21 at $1.3743

07/15/21 at $1.3819

08/13/21 at $1.3866

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24/18

1.2530 on 12/06/19

1.2390 on 01/17/20

1.3540 on 03/18/20

1.2752 on 12/16/20

1.2186 on 06/15/21

1.2417 on 07/02/21

1.2539 on 07/15/21

1.2515 on 08/13/21

With data showing reemerging inflation and the Fed’s concern about inflation, precious metals, a historic hedge against inflation may become a popular topic again soon. Interestingly, the number of people in the US invested in Gold and Silver is far less than those invested in Equities.  In fact, while about 50% of Americans invest, only 10.8% of the population owns Gold and only about 11.6% of the country owns Silver. Gold prices:

10/02/19 $1,498.70/ounce

03/11/20 $1,641.00/ounce

07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce

11/30/20 $1,774.00

01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00

03/05/21 $1,698.70

04/28/21 $1,782.20

06/15/21 $1,859.90

07/02/21 $1,789.00

07/15/21 $1,828.00

08/13/21 $1,781.50

Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25/18

$6,350.00 on 10/5/18

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,598.90 on 01/16/19

$3,421.10 on 02/06/19

$8,100.00 on 05/16/19

$7,215.79 on 05/17/19

$11,919.30 on 06/25/19

$9,790.37 on 07/24/19

$10,183.90 on 09/10/19

$8,235.46 on 10/02/19

$7,470.41 on 12/06/19
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

$7,871.60 on 03/11/20

$3,867.00 on 03/13/20

$5,216.64 on 03/18/20

$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20 pre halving event

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20 post halving event

$10,849.00 on 07/27/20

$15,160.90 on 11/10/20

$19,411.50 on 11/30/20

$20,665.10 on 12/16/20

$31,592.20 on 01/04/21

$36,607.50 on 02/04/21

$48,526.90 on 02/16/21

$58,093.71 on 02/21/21

$43,170.01 on 02/28/21

$49,207.43 on 03/05/21

$58,979.60 on 04/01/21

$63,237.00 on 04/15/21

$54,886.50 on 04/28/21

$54,242.00 on 05/12/21

$39,804.90 on 06/15/21

$33,039.30 on 07/02/21

$31,280.00 on 07/15/21

$47,796.20 on 08/13/21 ouch what a whipsaw!

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. On 3/13/20, it had cratered at $3,867.  It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  It exploded in early 2021, as new corporate investors (including Elon Musk) jumped in. On 4/15/21, it hit a high of $63,237.  It has since made almost a 50% downward correction, falling back to early 2021 levels recently, wiping out all 2021 gains. It continues to slip further. It’s beginning to have an inverse relationship to Gold, like bonds tend to do with equities. The SEC has decided to put off a decision on WisdomTree’s proposed bitcoin ETF and requested public comments on the application. The SEC wants views on whether the ETF will be vulnerable to manipulation. Fidelity Digital Assets is increasing staff by 70%. Fed’s Powell favors Fed-issued central bank digital currency over multiple private cryptocurrencies or stablecoins. 

Brexit:

Nothing to report.

Global Financial News:

Surging global M&A deals have reached a new high of $3.6 trillion worldwide. That has already topped last year’s $3.59 trillion according Refinitiv. The number of deals too is up to 35,128 so far for 2021, up 24% over the entire 2020. Cash deposited in the Federal Reserve’s RRP program hit a record $1.087 trillion, highlighting just how much USD cash is sloshing in the market and available. The Treasury Department is going to start paying down its Treasury Bill issuance, which is going to reduce the amount of collateral available, particularly in the Repo market, further. It’s kind of ironic that the Fed is starting their new facility to take collateral on Reverse Repo and pay out USD cash, as their counterparties in the RRP are already unable to find collateral for themselves at the broker/dealers. Some special-purpose acquisition companies (SPACs) face the prospect of returning cash to investors if they fail to sign up to deals before a lockup period expires. 80 SPACs have less than a year to secure acquisitions before they must refund investors according S&P Global. Major fund managers worldwide are holding on to risky assets based on the belief that a surge in US inflation is temporary and that the Fed will give ample indication when it will begin tapering asset purchases. Most money managers think the Fed will be watching the labor market more closely than inflation, according to Reuters. Hedge Fund stock pickers are becoming increasingly bold in their conviction buys and crowding into long positions in the 50 most popular stocks, according to data from Morgan Stanley. That could portend trouble, as it may not be enough diversification and if they choose to pull out, it could have a major impact on those stocks’ prices. Neobanks or fintechs that aren’t fully chartered banks but provide a variety of financial services are seeing soaring valuations and grabbing huge sums of money from investors, sometimes outshining their traditional banking rivals. Some firms, such as Robinhood, Coinbase, PayPal, and Square are tending to trade around 15x higher than their estimated core sales, while some traditional banks are trading around 3x, according to the WSJ.

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. We closed at a record high today!

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates).

08/13/21  35,515.38

07/14/21  34,933.23

07/01/21  34,633.53

05/12/21  33,587.66

03/31/21  32,981.55

01/13/21   31,060.47

12/31/20   30,606.48

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/22/20   27,005.84

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/08/20   27,572.44

6/03/20     26,269.89

5/27/20     25,548.27

4/17/20     24,242.49

3/23/20    18,591.93

3/03/20     25,917.41

2/12/20     29,551.42 record high

S&P 500 has closed on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58

12/26/18 at 2,467.70

12/06/19 at 3,145.91

02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 2,237.40

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/13/21 at 3,809.84

02/03/21 at 3,830.17

02/16/21 at 3,923.59

03/05/21 at 3,841.94

03/31/21 at 3,972.89

05/12/21 at 4,063.04

07/01/21 at 4,319.94

07/14/21 at 4,374.30

08/13/21 at 4,468.00

S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record high today!

Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

12/06/19 at 8,656.07

02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 6,860.67

06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/13/21 at 13,128.95

02/03/21 at 13,610.54

02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high

03/05/21 at 12,920.15

03/31/21 at 13,246.87

05/12/21 at 13,031.68

07/01/21 at 14,522.38

07/14/21 at 14,644.95

08/13/21 at 14,822.90 new record high

The US Treasury market

2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

02/06/20 at 1.44%

03/11/20 at 0.50%

03/17/20 at 0.47%

03/23/20 at 0.28%

05/10/20 at 0.16%

07/24/20 at 0.14%

12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/13/21 at 0.14%

02/03/21 at 0.11%

02/16/21 at 0.11%

03/05/21 at 0.14%

03/31/21 at 0.16%

05/12/21 at 0.16%

07/01/21 at 0.25% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.23%

08/13/21 at 0.23% back to 7/14 level, after having fallen 2 weeks ago to 0.17%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

12/06/19 at 1.64%

02/06/20 at 1.43%

03/11/20 at 0.58%

03/17/20 at 0.54%

03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.21%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!

01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!

01/13/21 at 0.22%

02/16/21 at 0.17%

03/05/21 at 0.32%

03/31/21 at 0.35%

05/12/21 at 0.35%

07/01/21 at 0.47% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.44%

08/13/21 at 0.44% which ignores that it hit 0.33% on 08/02/21

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

02/07/20 at 1.45%

03/11/20 at 0.66%

03/17/20 at 0.56%

03/23/20 at 0.38%

03/26/20 at 0.51%

03/31/20 at 0.37%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/13/21 at 0.48%

02/03/21 at 0.46%

02/16/21 at 0.42%

03/05/21 at 0.79%

03/31/21 at 0.92%

05/12/21 at 0.87%

07/01/21 at 0.89% not much increase

07/14/21 at 0.80%

08/13/21 at 0.79% it hit 0.65% on 08/03/21

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

02/06/20 at 1.56%

03/11/20 at 0.78%

03/17/20 at 0.91%

03/23/20 at 0.63%

03/26/20 at 0.72%

03/31/20 at 0.55%

07/24/20 at 0.44% record low

11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/13/21 at 0.80%

02/03/21 at 0.81%

02/16/21 at 0.76%

03/05/21 at 1.23%

03/31/21 at 1.40%

05/12/21 at 1.34%

07/01/21 at 1.24%

07/14/21 at 1.11%

08/13/21 at 1.08% hit 0.95% on 08/03/21

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65%

12/06/19 at 1.84%

02/06/20 at 1.65%

03/11/20 at 0.82% wow!

03/17/20 at 1.02%

03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again

07/24/20 at 0.59% record low

11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/13/21 at 1.10%

02/03/21 at 1.15%

02/16/21 at 1.09%

03/05/21 at 1.56%

03/31/21 at 1.74%

05/12/21 at 1.69%

07/01/21 at 1.48%

07/14/21 at 1.37%

08/13/21 at 1.29% hit 1.19% on 08/03/21

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

02/06/20 at 2.11%

03/11/20 at 1.30%

03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!

03/23/20 at 1.33% back down

07/24/20 at 1.23% record low

11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/13/21 at 1.82%

02/03/21 at 1.92%

02/16/21 at 1.84%

03/05/21 at 2.28%

03/31/21 at 2.41%

05/12/21 at 2.40%

07/01/21 at 2.07% dramatic drop almost below magic 2%

07/14/21 at 1.98%

08/13/21 at 1.94% although it hit 1.83% on 08/04/21

Housing News:

As President Biden has instituted an extension to the moratorium on evictions, states are racing to pay out $billions in rent aid before the Federal deadline for that. And they are way behind. For instance, incoming NY Governor Hochul faces the herculean task of distributing nearly $800 million to needy renters before the Federal government takes it back. NY received $1.3 billion from Congress last year as the first part of federal rent aid. As of this week, less than $100 million has made its way to landlords to cover what their tenants owe them in back rent. About $460 million has been approved but is awaiting landlord approval to be paid out. Guidelines allow the US Dept. of Treasury to claw back unused funding starting 9/30/21 and reallocate it to other states’ programs that have used up at least 65% of what they were allotted. Here is an odd connection, Americans most likely to be evicted are the least likely to be vaccinated for COVID-19. NY is not the only state with a problem. Seven states have spent less than 2% of their rent assistance funds (AL, AR, MS, IN, ND, SC, and WY), according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. Florida has spent just 3% of the $870 million allocated to it. Georgia has spent 2% and Ohio has spent about 7%. Nationwide, only 17% of this first round of rental aid funding has been used. NY’s program did not kick off until 6/1 and the first payments didn’t go out until 7/19. President Biden extended the Federal eviction moratorium, which is still being challenged in court, but NYC’s eviction moratorium ends on 8/31/21. You’ve probably seen the shocking headlines that in the last 10 months, some 60,000 New Yorkers have moved to Florida. But, the RealDeal reports that NYC grew by 629,000 people since 2010. Midtown NYC Distrikt Hotel is heading for foreclosure. Nationally, the hot housing market showed Home Prices were up in 94% of the nation’s major metro markets. Stephen Ross has become the King of the West Palm Beach (where I live) office market. Airbnb boasted a 2nd quarter revenue, but is sounding the alarm about the Delta variant impact. Billionaire Mets owner and hedge fund manager Steven Cohen has bought a South Florida mansion for nearly $22 million.

Repo/Securities Financing News:                               

At the 6/16 FOMC meeting announcement, the Fed could have increased the rate on the RRP to 0.05%, which might have forced GC repo rates higher to compete with the Fed paying cash providers 5bp more. However, it wouldn’t have solved the present dislocation that there isn’t enough collateral for the cash in the market and the RRP is a disintermediation of the broker/dealers with their own typical cash providers. Yet, the Fed chose to raise the RRP by 5bp. The second possible solution, to taper QE, was probably the logical choice, but would be the least friendly to other markets and perhaps to the public. However, the Fed, while not beginning the taper, decided to hint at it coming. This could solve the collateral shortage problem. The third possible solution, was to adjust the Interest On Excess Reserves (IOER) rate higher, which would in turn raise the average Fed Funds rate, which would in turn raise the GC Repo rate, since all three products compete with each other for that elusive cash. The Fed also chose to raise the IOER rate by 5bp. Some market analysts actually mentioned this as a major influence on the subsequent fall in the equity market, saying that cash left the equity market to take advantage of IOER. Really? I doubt that had much of a factor at all. I think the move out of Equities was due to several other reasons, including the rising competitive yield in US Treasuries and other Fixed Income products, the warning of future Fed tightenings in the Fed statement, and the specters of inflation and nagging unemployment discussed by the Fed in its statement. So, these are monetary policy concerns and economic fundamentals concerns, which made the equity market jittery, not the IOER tweak. We just had another FOMC meeting on July 28. (see below)

One thing that I missed and my friend Scott Skrym brings to my attention, in the fine print of the FOMC minutes, was mention for the first time in a long time of the Standing Repo Facility (SRF). It should be thought of as a Reverse Repo from the perspective of the Federal Reserve: it will give out cash and take in collateral. This is similar in direction to the Discount Window and the O/N and Term RPs that the Fed has been doing with Primary Dealers. It is the OPPOSITE of the direction of the RRP program, in which the Fed takes cash from money funds and others and gives out collateral from its portfolio.  Basically, the SRF rate would be set at the top of the Fed Funds target range (currently that would be 0.25%), would be available at first only to the Primary Dealers, eventually extended to approved counterparties. There are some problems with the rate and the potential flood of collateral the Fed could receive on a daily basis, the opposite of the amount of cash the Fed is currently getting dumped on it on a daily basis. It also calls into question the term that the Fed has avoided in the 39 years that I’ve been in the industry, and that is to become “Lender of Last Resort”. I’m sure we will hear much more about this in the future from the Fed.

Securities Finance Industry Conferences

This section is a work in progress. I am searching new sources of virtual conferences, networking, and symposiums, rather than just continuing to run the 25-30 annual physical conferences for the industry, many of which are no longer being held, because of the pandemic.  I am hearing from some customers that, with the current surge in COVID-19 cases and Delta Variant, particularly in Florida, that they may forego the RMA Conference in Florida.

  • ICMA Fintech Week London:  7/12/21-7/16/21, Virtual.
  • HIS Markit Securities Finance Q2 2021 Webinar: 7/14/21, Virtual.
  • 25th IMN/AFME Global ABS 2021:  9/27/21-9/28/21, London.
  • ICMA/ERCC Professional Repo Market and Collateral Management Workshop 2021:  9/27/21-10/5/21, Virtual.
  • 37th Annual RMA Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference:  10/18/21-10/21/21, will be in person (first time since PASLA was cancelled), Aventura, FL. I have not missed an RMA, and it’s in Florida, so…
  • FundForum Internnational/Clearstream: 10/20/21-10/22/21, Monaco.
  • 2021 RMA Annual Risk Management Conference:  10/25/21-10/28/21, TBA.
  • Finadium Rates & Repo 2021:  November 10, 2021, TBA if Virtual or on location in NYC.
  • 27th IMN ABS East 2021:  12/13/21-12/15/21, Miami Beach, FL.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. 

The next FOMC meetings are:  09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in. 

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.

At the 7/28 FOMC meeting, the Fed focused on progress on vaccinations and indicators of economic growth and employment continuing to strengthen. But, it said the sectors most effected by the pandemic have shown improvement but haven’t fully recovered. The Fed specifically linked the path of the economy to the path of the virus.  It cited that risks to the economic outlook remain. Pointing at its mandate for maximum employment and controlled inflation at about 2%, the Fed said that it would continue to maintain an accommodative stance on monetary policy until these outcomes are achieved. It kept the target Fed Funds rate at 0.00-0.25%. it also chose to continue its aggressive purchasing of US Treasuries and Agency MBS at $80b and $40b/month respectively. It seemed to me that the Fed actually said less in this FOMC Statement than they did at the last one, choosing not to freak everyone out about possible Fed tightening or QE tapering. 

The FOMC also issued an additional statement regarding “Repurchase Agreement Arrangements”. It announced the establishment of a domestic Standing Repo Facility (SRF) (which I discussed above) and a repo facility for foreign and international monetary authorities (FIMA Repo Facility). This latter facility was new to me. Both facilities are intended to be backstops to the money market. So, we received more detailed information at this FOMC: the SRF will have daily O/N repo operations against US Treasuries, Agency Debentures, and Agency MBS pools, with a maximum total size of $500 billion. The minimum bid rate for repos under the facility will be the top end of the Fed Funds range, currently 0.25%, which is currently ABOVE the general level of O/N interest rates (of course, you never know what the Fed means here. Do they mean the SOFR rate, which is an Offer Side rate, while the SRF rate is supposed to be a Bid Side rate, or if they are calculating against the mean or mid-point of bid/offer spread?).  Or, they could just be talking about this SRF in the context of where Repo and Reverse Repo rates are versus the Fed Funds target rate, lately closer to the bottom of the range. The initial counterparties will be their 22 Primary Dealers, which we knew, and be expanded to other ‘depository institutions.’ Hmmm, I think that just means banks and credit unions, and could still not give access to other needy collateral providers like asset managers, hedge funds, REITs, insurance companies, municipalities, pension funds, etc. Hopefully, I am wrong about that. The FIMA repo facility will actually operate a little easier, as the Fed will enter into O/N reverse repos as needed with foreign official institutions against their holding of US Treasuries already maintained in custody at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY, mostly in the SOMA accounts. That rate will also be 0.25% now and the per counterparty limit will be $60 billion. This facility could be key for these institutions to receive US dollar funding, when propping up their own currencies, rather than selling their US Treasuries outright. I think we will be discussing these 2 Fed facilities in future Repo Commentaries and you probably will see my comments pop up in some upcoming media articles.

On Thursday, the Federal Reserve Board issued Enforcement Actions with South Shore Bank and Dime Community Bank. Both were Flood Insurance violations. On 8/5, the Federal Reserve Board announced individual capital requirements for all large banks, effective on October 1. Also on 8/5, the Federal Reserve Board announced the termination of enforcement action with JPMorgan Chase. The Fed has extended the comment period on proposed rule to govern funds transfers over the Federal Reserve Banks’ FedNow Service.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. Much quieter than it has been previously:

08/10 5.1 northern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

08/10 4.9 Kuril Islands

08/10 5.1 SSE of Mukalla, Yemen

08/10 4.7 SW of Santiago, Peru

08/10 4.5 SW of Santiago, Peru

08/10 4.6 SSW of Paracas, Peru

08/10 5.1 SSE of Kuril’sk, Russia

08/10 4.5 WSW of La Libertad, El Salvador

08/09 4.8 SE of Shwebo, Myanmar

08/09 4.6 ENE of Lospalos, Timor Leste

08/09 5.0 southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Weather:

Northern California continues to burn.  The Dixie Fire has now scorched an area more than twice the size of New York City. Firefighters are battling the largest single wildfire in state history (surpassing last year’s Creek Fire in the Central Valley, but half the size of the August Complex of 2020 which were lightning-caused fires across 7 counties and fought together) and bracing for a return of weather that could make the fires worse.  The winds aren’t expected to reach the ferocious speeds that caused the fire to explode in size last week, but there are still thousands of homes that firefighters are trying to protect. An expert from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said, “the live trees that are out there now have a lower fuel moisture than you would find when you go to a hardware store or a lumber yard and get that piece of lumber that’s kiln dried.” So, it won’t take much in embers or sparks to set live trees ablaze. The fire incinerated much of Greenville last week, destroying 370 homes and structures and threatening nearly 14,000 buildings in the northern Sierra Nevada. The Dixie Fire is still being investigated, although PG&E said it may have sparked when a tree fell on one of its power lines. Northwest of the Dixie Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, hundreds of homes remained threatened by the McFarland and Monument fires, which continue to grow. About 25% of the McFarland fire is contained and about 3% of the Monument fire is contained. South of the Dixie Fire, the River Fire, which broke out Wednesday near Colfax, has already destroyed 68 homes.  Smoke from the wildfires burning the US West continues to flow into parts of Colorado and Utah, causing air quality alerts. I was there in Colorado during alerts. The air quality there has measured as the worst in the world due to these fires. California’s fire season is on track to surpass last year’s season, which was the worst in recorded state history. Since the beginning of 2021, more than 6,000 fires in California have destroyed more than 1,260 square miles of land, more than triple the losses of 2020 during the same period. And California’s fires are currently among 107 large fires burning across 14 states. By Wednesday night, the Dixie Fire had burned over 500,000 acres. Although authorities will be looking at data supplied by PS&G regarding a possible downed line in igniting this fire, a man has been arrested for allegedly not only starting several of the fires, but even starting a fire in an evacuation alley for firefighters, basically behind them to engulf them.

The heatwave across the country, while about 10 degrees lower than it was, has very high heat indices for some 146 million Americans over the next few days. We’ve been getting slammed with rainstorms here in Florida and 105 heat indices, with temps in the 90s. The National Weather Service is expecting heavy rain through the week in some sections of the country and possible tornadoes through the tornado belt. According to NOAA, July was the hottest month ever recorded.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGAN June 1st and ends November 30th.  According to CNN, one thing about 2020 that people didn’t notice during the pandemic is that hurricane forecasts improved. Focus is now on size and speed of the approaching storm and the critical “cone of uncertainty”, which affects a certain population. 2021 was expected by the NOAA to be an Active hurricane season. They expected a likely range of 13-20 named storms (winds of 39mph or higher). They expected 6-10 of them to be Hurricanes, and of that 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger.  This week, NOAA revised those numbers slightly higher. Now they predict 15-21 named storms, 7-10 hurricanes, of which still 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger.

There are currently two tropical waves in the Atlantic at this time, that could develop into tropical depressions or storms in the coming days. The NHC is keeping an eye on them, as they may impact the Caribbean this week. They are giving them a 50% chance and a 40% chance, respectively, of developing over the next 5 days. We’ve had 5 named storms, ending with Elsa. The next names would be Fred, Grace, Henri, Ida, Julian, Kate, Larry, Mindy, Nicholas, Odette, Peter, Rose, Sam, Teresa, Victor, and Wanda. Radar and satellite images are showing increasing tropical activity in Atlantic. Storm warnings were just issued for Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. As I’m writing this on Wednesday, the NHC named Tropical Storm Fred and put out warnings for the west coast of Florida, although the East coast of Florida is in the cone of possibility.  Fred fell to a Tropical Depression over Cuba, on Thursday, but now looks like it will intensify over warm water into probably the first named Hurricane of the season, a Category 1 is likely. Also, Tropical Depression Grace behind Fred is strengthening and may be the next Tropical Storm or even Hurricane.

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. In the Eastern North Pacific. There are currently no tropical cyclones in the Central North Pacific.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has just proclaimed “a code red for humanity.” This is the unequivocal consensus of the world’s top climate scientists, per Bloomberg, who revealed in a report Monday that, not only are humans responsible for the catastrophes befalling the atmosphere, the oceans, the ice packs, and the forests, but that without drastic moves by the planet’s leaders to eliminate greenhouse gas pollution, things are going get a lot worse soon. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said that the crucial warming threshold of 2 degrees Centigrade will be exceeded during the 21st Century. In addition, the report says that the past decade was most likely hotter than any period in the last 125,000 years, and combustion and deforestation have raised CO2 in the atmosphere higher than it’s been in two million years.

Sports News:       

MLB:

In the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series.

For 2021, MLB is seems to slowly be returning back to normal.  MLB and Barstool Sports are reportedly in significant talks to broadcast games, according to the NY Post. My mighty Red Sox have been tumbling, along with the Mets, as the Blue Jays, Phillies, and Braves make their August runs.  The 7/30 trade deadline passed with some teams becoming rebuilding and others adding star power for the big push. I don’t know if you caught Thursday night’s baseball treat for fans, as the Yankees and White Sox played in the cornfields of Iowa at a ballpark seating 8,000 fans, built right next to the field from 1990s movie hit, FIELD OF DREAMS, which one Best Picture Oscar. People dressed in old style uniforms and fans won seats through a lottery. Kevin Costner, start of the movie, was on hand to throw out the first pitch, stepping out of the cornfields in center field and walking to the mound. He also provided game coverage for a couple of innings. The game itself was as exciting as could be expected. With plenty of homeruns, the Yankees jumped out to an early 4-1 lead, but the White Sox climbed back into the game to lead late 7-4, but then the Yankees rallied back and seemed to cap off the dramatic comeback in the top of the 9th with a 2-run HR. But, the excitement wasn’t over, as the White Sox hit a walkoff 2-run HR of their own in the bottom of the 9th, to win 9-8! I actually watched the entire game, even though I’m not a Yankees fan, and I forewent watching the Patriots’ first preseason game. Preseason NFL games are meaningless for the fans anyways.

Current standings (08/09), after about 110-115 games:

AL EAST the Red Sox lost 9 of 11 games and relinquished first place now by 5 games to the Rays. In fact, the Red Sox lost several games to the Rays, Jays, and Yankees in this stretch, as those 3 teams won 8 out of 10 games each. The Red Sox have yet to pitch their healed ace Chris Sales, for some reason, and picked up some extra offensive punch, but it hasn’t translated yet to these games. Last night (Wednesday), the Red Sox ran up the score to 20-1 over the Rays (before giving up 7 runs in the 9th?). 20 runs was the most the Red Sox had scored in a game since 2015. Maybe the offense is back. Baltimore is 29 games back.

Tampa Bay

Boston

NY Yankees

Toronto

Baltimore

AL CENTRAL this began as the runaway division for the White Sox, but then the Cleveland Indians (renamed a politically more correct Guardians starting 2022) made a run at them. That has subsequently faltered. The White Sox are back in front by 10 ½ games over Cleveland. Minnesota is 18 games back

Chicago WS

Cleveland

Detroit

Kansas City

Minnesota

AL WEST the A’s have been a surprise, but the Astros have finally overtook them, and have the slight lead by 2 games. The Mariners are not out of it either, 7 ½ games back of the Astros. The Rangers are 27 games back.

Houston

Oakland

Seattle
LA Angels

Texas

NL EAST this division continues to underperform, which leaves almost every team still in the running.  With the Mets losing 8 out of their last 10 games, the Phillies leapfrogged to first place, winning 8 in a row, and the Braves won 7 of 10 to take 2nd place, bumping the Mets down to 3rd place. Based on the trade deadline, the Nats decided to throw in the towel on some big contracts and begin rebuilding. The Marlins are 12 games back.

Philadelphia

Atlanta

NY Mets

Washington

Miami

NL CENTRAL The Brewers are holding on to first place by 5 games over the Reds, who just won 8 of their last 10, while the Cards are 10 ½ games behind, and the Cubs became sellers at the trade deadline and begin their rebuilding. The Pirates are 25 games back.

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

St. Louis

Chicago Cubs

Pittsburgh

NL WEST the World Champion Dodgers looked like they would run away with the division, but the Giants said ‘hold my beer’. Plenty of analysts said that the Giants were not good enough to hold first place, but yet they have widened to 4 games ahead of the Dodgers. You can’t count the Padres out either, who are only 7 1/2 games back of the Giants. Led by teams with the two best records in MLB, this high-flying division has put the Diamondbacks in the rearview mirror, behind first place by 38 1/2 games.

San Francisco

LA Dodgers

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

Golf:

The PGA Tour 2021 season rolls on. Well, it’s hard to speak without remarking on the United States’ surprising Gold medals in Men’s Golf and Women’s Golf at the Tokyo Olympics. Our first in Golf in 121 years!  The 2021 US Amateur is coming up. Harris English is coming to Bryson DeChambeau’s defense on heckling fans. The fans were yelling “Brooksie” at him, carrying over from the spat he had with Brooks Koepka a few months back. Bryson is a polarizing force in golf, with his attitude and unorthodox long-drive approach to the game, which has had less success than expected. But, as Sergio Garcia could teach him, you need to ignore the hecklers or it just gets worse. The WGC-St. Jude Invitational, which featured many golf stars, ended Sunday in a 3-player playoff.  Third round leader, Harris English, began Day 4 with a 2-shot lead, then needed a 12-foot putt on 18 to make the playoff, and missed. Bryson was only 2 shots behind English, but wound up tied for 8th place. Cam Smith was tied for the lead with just one hole to play and wound up tying for 5th place! In the wild ups and downs, including penalties for slow play, Abraham Ancer won the playoff and the tournament. This week’s PGA Tour tournament is the Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, NC.

NFL:

The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV, which was played in Tampa Bay, with the Bucs beating the Chiefs 31-9. Preseason games begin next week. Despite surges in COVID-19 cases and deaths all over the country, the NFL is sticking with their plans to fill their stadiums with fans. This past Sunday, the NFL inducted the 2021 class for the Hall of Fame. Three of them made the HOF on their first ballot: Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, and Charles Woodson. Saturday’s enshrinement ceremony featured Troy Polamalu, Edgerrin James, and coach Jimmy Johnson. Along with the 3 first ballotters, there were 5 other inductees that took to the podium on Sunday: Drew Pearson, Tom Flores (coach), John Lynch, Alan Faneca, and Bill Nunn. After the ceremony, Tom Brady congratulated his friend Peyton via Twitter. NFL teams are currently in training camp and 5 teams have already been snakebit. The Colts QB Carson Wentz has a foot injury and G Quenton Nelson also had a foot injury and both have had to have surgery. The Texans are missing QB Deshaun Watson, who is still at odds with the organization, wanting to be traded, while himself fielding civil lawsuits from 22 women, accusing him of coercive and lewd sexual behavior. The team is leaving him off the plane for the trip to Green Bay and the preseason opener. The Seahawks have two holdout players in camp who aren’t playing, Duane Brown and Jamal Adams.  The Cowboys are without starting QB Dak Prescott, who missed two-thirds of last season with a gruesome injury. He left practice last week with a shoulder strain. The Saints, already dealing with QB Drew Brees retirement, now are missing top WR Michael Thomas, who is nursing an ankle injury.

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing. However, for various reasons, Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and Serena have dropped out of matches in July and August, implying that the 4 already all-time greats will not play a match at the big Canada or Cincinnati tournaments, which leaves their US Open prospects in question. Now, regarding Djokovic, he has won all 3 of the Slams this year, a feat not done in a single year since Rod Laver in 1969. Also, after winning Wimbledon, he then played at the Olympics, so he wouldn’t be going into the US Open cold. Federer is 40 and while he did come back this year, his record has been 9-4, and he has been questioning (out loud) how much more he will play. Nadal has a nagging foot injury and 39-year-old Serena has an ankle injury from Wimbledon. Let’s not forget Osaka either, who not only withdrew from Wimbledon, but has also already withdrawn from Montreal, not to mention skipping her own country’s hosted Olympics.

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion, undefeated Gonzaga.

Olympics:

The 2021 Tokyo Summer Games began on 7/23, and ended on Sunday 8/8 with the Closing Ceremony. It was marred by COVID-19 precautions and infections, and the need to ban fans from the stadiums.  It was still very competitive and frequently exciting. There was also plenty of drama to be had. The United States, for the 7th straight Summer Games, won the most medals (and most the country has ever won), and more importantly, beat out China for the most Gold medals of any country, with 39. Of course, they are no longer made out of Gold. Of the 113 medals that the US won, 66 of them were won by US women. The host country, Japan, won the most medals it has ever won before, a trend that continues, with the Host country seemingly with home field advantage, even without fans in the stands. This Olympics featured the most different countries winning medals. The US women’s volleyball team won its first team Gold (since sport started in 1964), while both the US women’s (7th consecutive) and men’s basketball teams (4th consecutive) won Gold. Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi became the first basketball players, male or female, to win 5 Olympic Gold medals. The US women beat Australia for Gold medal. The US won Gold in golf in No.5 Xander Schauffele, who lives right here in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, and in No.1 world-ranked US player Nelly Korda. Both won the first Gold in golf for the US, for men or women, since 1900! The US won rare Gold medals in skeet shooting and fencing. Perennial US stars such as Katie Ledecky and Kevin Durant delivered. But, new stars emerged too, in Sydney McLaughlin, Suni Lee, Allyson Felix (winning her 11th career medal, making her the most decorated track and field Olympian in US history), and Caeleb Dressel who collected 5 gold medals for swimming. US men’s soccer team did not qualify, which is unusual, and US women’s soccer team won only Bronze, which is also unusual. Also, the US lost to Japan 2-0 in returning sport baseball (“America’s pastime”).  In the host country, where baseball is like a national religion, the Japanese took the Olympic Baseball seriously, stopping their Central and Pacific Leagues mid-season to pick the best players to take on the behemoth USA, knowing that the US has won Gold every time. Meanwhile, US fans considered Olympic Baseball and afterthought and the USOC fielded a team of misfits, minor leaguers, and lifers, but no current stars. The US dominated in women’s gymnastics with team Gold, but not as much as they have before, with 6 overall medals, and there was plenty of controversy, as team Captain Simone Biles decided to withdraw from the team event and the individual events, except balance beam, in which she won a Bronze medal. She highlighted mental issues, primarily anxiety and pressure she was under. While I sympathize with athlete’s speaking out about this stress, starting with tennis star Osaka, I also think that Biles took a spot from someone who could have been in the Olympics from our US qualifying. Also, I think some of that pressure was what she put on herself by wearing a patch on her jacket that said she was “Greatest Of All Time”. I’m not sure you get the same pass that Osaka did (and she by the way did not compete, despite it being her country’s hosting, but did light the Olympic flame), if you brag about being the GOAT and are by far the superior athlete and then quit. The US dominated in the pool with the men’s and women’s teams. The next Summer Olympics will be in just 3 years, 2024, in Paris. Meanwhile, the next Winter Olympics are going to be unusually next year, 2022. TV Ratings for the Tokyo Olympics were down significantly from Rio 2016, London 2012, and prior games, by an average of 45%!!!!!  Some individual days were even far worse. Definitely, the pandemic had an impact, but so did the 13-hour time difference from USA ET. That led to many spoilers from live broadcasts until the primetime broadcasts.  The group who was out the money was NBC, which will likely lead to NBC charging us extra for streaming the next Olympic Games.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the asterisk season (last season) on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude the same season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans.

The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but was only 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic.

It was an exciting Playoffs, despite the odd configuration of the Divisions to be less traveling for the players and more COVID-19 aware. The Cinderella team this year, but perennial Stanley Cup winners in the old days, the Montreal Canadiens, ran into a rough Tampa Bay Lightning team and a goalie who was on fire. They wound up losing in 5 games, 4-1, to the Lightning, who repeated their Stanley Cup victory from last year. Next up is the NHL Draft 2021. The NHL is expanding to 32 teams for the 2021-22 season, with the addition of the Seattle Kraken in the Pacific Division. One of my favorites and brother to another of my favorites, Tony Esposito, has died.  Jaromir Jagr is still playing professional hockey! He feels obligated to continue to play for Kladno, even though he is approaching age 50. I think Gordie Howe’s last game in professional hockey, in the Independent League, was when he was 72. Pettersson is ‘hungry for revenge’ after his injury. On Tuesday, Lightning defenseman Luke Schenn got to take a real drink from the Stanley Cup, which is making its way around the world with the players (as is customary), and his brother Brayden Schenn, who won it with the St. Louis Blues in 2019, poured it for him. McDonagh recently brought the Stanley Cup to an Irish pub in Wisconsin, along with a bagpipe band. Lightning coach Cooper took pictures with Wayne Gretzky and the Cup. Bogosian sang on stage with the Stanley Cup. It’s kind of funny to track where the Cup goes and what players do with it. Shattenkirk brought the Cup home. Colton was the first one to get the Cup. Blues forward Robert Thomas surprised an Imperial, MO family of 11 whose house burned down a day after the Blues’ championship parade, and gave them all new hockey gear.

NBA:

The NBA season tipped off more than two months later than usual on 12/22/20. The Suns beat the Bucks for the Championship. The Suns were a last place team only a few seasons ago. Two-time NBA champion JR Smith is heading to college, with his eyes set on playing golf professionally. NBA All-Star Andre Drummond saves his 2-year-old son who fell into a swimming pool. The Celtics and Dennis Schroder agree on 1year/$5.9 million deal.  He had turned down a lucrative extension a year ago from the Lakers. 2021 MGM Resorts Summer League is continuing. LiAngelo Ball is playing in the League with hopes to get back in the NBA.

Horse Racing:

Okay, this news item is not about besieged Bob Baffert. Another prominent horse racing trainer, Jorge Navarro, pleaded guilty Wednesday to involvement in what US prosecutors have called a global scheme to systematically drug horses and cheat the betting public. He could face 5 years in prison at his 12/17 sentencing, and has agreed to pay $25.9 million in restitution. At least 31 trainers, veterinarians, drug distributors and others have been charged since March 2020 over alleged doping affecting races in New York, Kentucky, Florida, New Jersey, Ohio and the United Arab Emirates. Seven defendants have already pleaded guilty. One such defendant who has not pleaded guilty is Jason Servis, the trainer of Maximum Security, which appeared to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby before being disqualified for interference. That horse also won the $20 million Saudi Cup, the world’s richest horse race, before Servis was charged. His top horse was X Y Jet, who he allegedly regularly drugged with a substance he called “monkey” in March 2019 before it won the Dubai Golden Shaheen, collecting $1.5 million. The horse died of an apparent heart attack in January 2020.

Auto Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. NASCAR and iRacing announced an official partnership. Gordon said he is retiring from Penske at end of 2021. Six teams were fined after Pocono race. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:

02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon

02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell

02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell

02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron

03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson

03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.

03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney

03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano

04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-Martin Truex Jr.

04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Bowman

04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-Keselowski

05/02/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas-Kyle Busch

05/09/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington-Martin Truex Jr.

05/16/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover, Drydene 400-Alex Bowman

05/23/21 NASCAR Cup Series at COTA, EchoPark Texas GP-Chase Elliott

05/30/21 Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/06/21 Toyota Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway-Kyle Larson

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Open, Texas Motor Speedway-Aric Almirola

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Race, Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/20/21 Ally 400, Nashville Superspeedway-Kyle Larson

06/26/21 Pocono Organics CBD 325-Alex Bowman

06/27/21 Explore the Pocono Mountains 350-Kyle Busch

07/04/21 Jockey Made in America 250 by Kwik Trip-Chase Elliott

07/11/21 Quaker State 400 by Walmart-Kurt Busch

07/18/21 Foxwoods Resort Casino 301-Aric Almirola

08/08/21 Go Bowling at The Glen-Kyle Larson

08/15/21 Verizon 200 at the Brickyard-

Formula One began 2020 with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:

03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen

04/18/21-Italy-Verstappen edged Hamilton

05/02/21-Portugal-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/09/21-Spain-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/23/21-Monaco-Verstappen

06/06/21-Azerbaijan-Perez

06/20/21-France-Verstappen

06/27/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/04/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/18/21-Great Britain-Hamilton

08/01/21-Hungary-Ocon

08/29/21-Belgium-

09/05/21-Netherlands-

09/12/21-Italy-

09/26/21-Russia-

10/03/21-Singapore-

10/10/21-Japan-

10/24/21-United States

10/31/21-Mexico-

11/07/21-Brazil-

11/21/21-Australia-

12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-

12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-

IndyCar Racing circuit (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:

04/18/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park-Alex Palou

04/25/21-St. Petersburg Street Course-Colton Herta

05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 1-Scott Dixon

05/02/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 2-Pato O’Ward

05/15/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1-Rinus Veekay

05/30/21-Indy 500-Helio Castronoves

06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 1-Marcus Ericsson

06/13/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 2-Pato O’Ward

06/20/21-Road America-Alex Palou

07/04/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course-Josef Newgarden

07/11/21-Toronto Exhibition Place-cancelled

08/08/21-Nashville Street Course-Marcus Ericsson

08/14/21-Indianapolis GP 2

08/21/21-Gateway Motorsports Park

09/11/21-Portland International Raceway

09/19/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

09/26/21-Streets of Long Beach

Travel News:

A lot to cover here. Demand for air travel, after surging dramatically as everyone escaped lockdowns and quarantines, has flatlined, amid delta variant surge. Now, airlines are considering requiring employees to be vaccinated. Some 75% are already vaccinated, so Delta and Southwest said they won’t require it of employees. But, we are all still flying with masks on. I just flew to Colorado and back with the mask on and I have to say it wasn’t particularly comfortable. I noticed that, after many incidents of unruly passengers, Southwest is no longer serving alcohol on flights. Let’s talk about flights, I am hearing anecdotal reports from family and friends about horrific travel plans disrupted by airlines arbitrarily cancelling flights and not offering alternatives. Some people who had direct flights wind up being delayed days. It appears to be a combination of problems for airlines, including shortage of employees (many furloughed during pandemic) in all facets of the air travel business, increased demand from travelers, causing flights to overfill (you do know that the airlines overbook, like hotels do, and expect people to cancel or not show), and bad weather nationally.  The weather has been causing major delays at hubs, which then affect connections, and ripple to cancellations. American Airlines said in a statement that its issues started with “unprecedented weather” impacting its largest hubs, setting off a snowball effect that led to delays, canceled flights, and disruptions to limited crew-member schedules. Spirit Airlines cancelled 60% of its flights on Wednesday to ‘reboot’ after a wave of computer problems caused massive disruptions, along with the summer storm season. It was so bad that the Department of Transportation is now monitoring Spirit Airlines flights.  Meanwhile, cabin crews and vendors for the airlines are being stretched thin, and any new hires on the airplane need to go through training or get recertified before taking to the air.  At the top of the list is a shortage of pilots and mechanics. One more explanation for all the disruptions is that the airlines can’t fly without planes, and they haven’t been able to bring all of their planes back on line, since they took them out of rotation early in the pandemic. As we probably all know by now, the Department of Transportation recommends booking flights earlier in the day, when you are less likely to be waiting for an incoming flight and less likely to be delayed or canceled. And if you do get canceled, you will have a whole days’ worth of rerouting options. They also recommend looking for direct flights, to avoid connection complications, try to fly on Tuesdays or Wednesdays when there is lighter flight traffic, and maybe consider taking out trip insurance coverage from Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR).

Martinique has asked tourists to leave, as French Caribbean is returning to COVID-19 lockdown. The CDC is once again rapidly adding countries to its “Do Not Travel” list because of surge in COVID-19 cases. However, the CDC and State Department have downgraded travel alerts on Tuesday for Canada following country’s reopening to vaccinated Americans. It is now Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution.  The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has published the new weekly maps for the current COVID-19 situation and says that it’s unsafe to travel to more regions of EU countries. Rules for travelers are changing, with more travelers being required to show proof of vaccination for travel.  The EU is now weighing restrictions on American tourists, as the US State Department says avoid Europe. The US has also not lifted President Trump’s rules banning most European travelers. France has promised foreign tourists access to COVID Health Passes. The Passes are now required to visit popular tourist sites, travel across the country by train, and more. The Canadian government will soon require all air travelers and passengers on interprovincial trains to be vaccinated.

I still think if the cruise ship industry is going to recover, it’s going to have to require passengers to come aboard vaccinated. Another 27 people aboard a Carnival cruise ship have tested positive for COVID-19. That means that they were likely in contact with some 3,000 people aboard. 26 of the 27 infected were crew members. Here is the weird thing, they were all vaccinated previously. I’m hearing more and more stories from friends of crossover or landmark cases, where vaccinated people are testing positive or coming down with COVID-19. I just had two neighbors who were sick for two weeks and they had been vaccinated in March, a month before me.

Health News:  

Okay, there is a lot to cover here. I am trying to be as neutral as I can and only reporting the news items I see, and not giving my bias about vaccinations. 

As of this today (8/13), globally, over 4.3 million people have died from COVID-19.  More than 205,000,000 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 35.3 million people, and are rising with the Delta variant and slowdown of vaccinations. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 619,230. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (566,896), India (430,254), Mexico (246,811), Peru (197,209), Russia (165,996), and UK (131,116). 533 people were confirmed infected at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and not deaths reported. A new report says that some 100,000 more Americans are likely to die of COVID-19 this year. Deaths could climb even more if the hospital ERs and ICUs remain as swamped as they are now across the country.

As of Wednesday, 76.8% of adult New Yorkers had received at least one vaccine dose and 69.4% have completed their vaccine series, according to CDC. According to NBC News, unvaccinated adults are bringing COVID-19 home to their kids, after a study by pediatricians concluded those findings. In many parts of the country, where schools are about to start the new year (here in Florida, it’s next week!), many school districts and States are dealing with the issue of mandatory masking for students or home-schooling again. Focus on the fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US began this summer in low-vaccination states in the Ozarks and Deep South.  Now, mostly because of the highly contagious Delta variant, it has engulfed the entire country, with cases and hospitalizations at their highest levels since February. 38 States have transmission levels considered high by the CDC. While this wave has been largely blamed on Americans who refuse to be vaccinated, in China, local officials are being punished, blamed for failing to curb an outbreak that has spawned almost 900 symptomatic infections in less than a month. Well, about 50% of Americans are fully vaccinated, and vaccination rates are beginning to climb again, to nearly 700,000 new doses administered every day. But tens of millions of Americans are still holding out.

Meanwhile, I’m sure you have seen that the UN has admonished countries like the US and banned booster shots being given, until more of the world has access to initial vaccinations. I’m sure that I’m not the only one, anecdotally, who has had non-vaxer friends recently die from COVID-19 or vaccinated friends suddenly becoming breakout cases, testing positive for COVID-19 and feeling symptoms. It’s getting scary again. A wave of vaccine mandates is sweeping across the US, including a particularly strict indoor public spaces vaccine one in San Francisco. The Department of Health and Human Services said it would require more than 25,000 health workers, including contractors and volunteers, to receive vaccines, becoming the latest Federal agency to issue such a mandate. The Department of Veterans Affairs issued a mandate last month requiring vaccines for its 115,000 frontline workers, or lose their jobs, and has now expanded that mandate to include nearly every worker, another 245,000 people. The FDA has authorized a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines only for immunocompromised people, specifying cancer patients and organ transplant recipients. So, my asthma hasn’t gotten me on that list yet. Despite the Delta variant, many US firms’ return-to-office plans remain moving forward.  French leaders are calling for heightened vigilance amid vandalism at vaccine sites. Iran is struggling with its worst wave yet of the virus. As you know and have heard from all the conspiracy theorists, the vaccines are still technically exploratory and were fast-tracked for an emergency. The full official approval by the FDA for all of the vaccines is expected in the coming weeks. 96% of ICU beds across Texas are full of COVID-19 patients.

Animal News:

Two separate shark attacks in a one-week span on beaches near Savannah, Georgia, are somewhat unusual since the area see relatively few bites each year, according to experts. On 8/3, a lifeguard at Hilton Head Island, SC received deep cuts to the chest but is expected to survive. On 7/27, a surfing instructor was bitten at nearby Tybee Island, GA during surfing class he was teaching. The two beaches are about 18 miles apart. Scientists have come up with a new name for the habit of birds to steal animal hair, calling it Kleptotrichy. It is actually common for some species of birds to steal hair from foxes, cougars, bears, coyotes, etc. as they sleep, and then line their nests with the hair. Scientists believe that this brazen behavior may be to ward off other predators from the birds’ nests, using the sight and smell of the larger animals’ hair. Squirrels are believed to use parkour tricks in order to leap from branch to branch. Here’s something I didn’t know, despite having once been an aspiring zoologist, snake-eating spiders are surprisingly common. A hammerhead shark baby boom near Florida is hinting at a historic nursery. Scientists say finding an endangered shark nursery in the vast oceans is like finding a needle in a haystack. But, that’s what they’ve done near Miami. A new study has found that viruses can kill wasp larvae that grow inside infected caterpillars and some moths. Inuit people have reported seeing polar bears using tools to kill walruses for years, which were usually dismissed, but new research has suggested that the behavior does occur, with polar bears sometimes bludgeoning walruses to death with stones or ice. A new book, “Wild Souls” explores what humans owe animals in a human-dominated world and the ethical dilemmas of saving Earth’s endangered animals. A 93-year-old Xerces blue butterfly specimen’s DNA shows that the butterfly is a distinct species, making it the first US insect that humans drove to extinction. A new study shows that dogs tune into people in ways that even human-raised wolves do not.  Puppies outpace wolf pups at engaging with humans, even with less exposure to people, supporting the theory that domestication is wired into dogs’ brains.

Entertainment News:

Miss America pageant now has the first transgender woman contestant. Markie Post has died at age 70. She was best known for television sit-coms, Night Court, The Fall Guy, Hearts Afire, etc. Ironically, on 7/12, Charlie Robinson, also well-known for Night Court, died at age 75. My show, The Mandalorian received 24 Emmy nominations. Real estate heir Robert Durst testified on Monday at his murder trial in Los Angeles. Three-time US Olympian, Lolo Jones, 39, celebrated her ‘mid-life crisis’ in a series of sexy poolside pics, calling them ‘thirst traps’. Kevin Costner, in a rare Instagram post, reacted to the news of additional cast of Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, and Sam Elliott joining for prequel 1883 to season 4 of Yellowstone. Costner posted “welcome to the ranch.” Okay, another one I have to binge-watch to catch up! I actually wrote down the series that I binge-watched during COVID-19 pandemic and it totaled 43 series. Is that bad?  Mostly Netflix. Despite appearing to go through an exhaustive slow process of trying out many actors, actresses and celebrities as guest hosts of Jeopardy!, the show announced that Mike Richards, the show’s executive producer (and producer of Wheel of Fortune) Mike Richards will be the new host, filling the late Alex Trebek’s shoes and will be spelled occasionally by actress Mayim Bialik from Big Bang Theory (who is actually a nuclear scientist). Fans and celebrities who wanted the job are crying ‘foul’! Finally, Britney has been ‘freed’. Britney Spears’ father has agreed to finally step down from his conservatorship over her life and money. Selma Blair is opening up about her struggles with multiple sclerosis. Christina Applegate was just diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Elton John is teaming up with Dua Lipa for “Cold Heart” remix.  RESPECT is getting rave reviews as an earnest Aretha Franklin tribute and as a showcase for Jennifer Hudson. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis are actually pro-shower now. Kim Kardashian West credits Kanye with boosting her confidence.  Brendan Fraser got emotional about his Tik Tok supporters. Phish will require proof of vaccination for upcoming concerts. Dolly Parton is releasing her first novel and a companion album next year. A new “Batman” comic confirms that sidekick Robin is gay. Stevie Nicks has cancelled all her US tour dates, citing rising COVID-19 cases. Caitlyn Jenner is speaking out against current CA Governor Gavin Newsome, who is facing a Recall vote in September. She attacked him, in particular, for the states “epidemic of crime.” Jenner is running for Governor as a Republican. Just looking at Oakland’s crime, where officials have begged the Governor to send in State Police (he could send the National Guard if he wanted to as well), Car Jackings are up 95%, Homicide is up 51%, and Robberies are up 14%, versus last year.

Technology & Space News:

After Richard Branson of Virgin completed his short self-funded space trip, Jeff Bezos of Amazon followed on 7/20 with a short self-funded flight of his own. In more Jeff Bezos transportation news, his new yacht, Project 721, will be larger than the SS Titanic was!  It is 417-foot and cost $500 million.

Since we started with Branson, his yacht is a gigantic catamaran, which cost him $8 million. I may have to just change this section to “super-rich”, Elon Musk reportedly lives in a $50,000 Boxabi prefab tiny home that already has a 100,000 unit waitlist. Boeing’s troubled Starliner spacecraft must return to the factory, causing more delays.  

US News:

A woman is suing McDonald’s after complaining that a cheeseburger ad was so irresistible it caused her to break her fast during Lent. USA Today reports that more couples want to de-gender their weddings, in a growing trend. I know you’ve heard that the Unemployment Rate is going down from President Biden, but what that ignores is that many people no longer qualify for Unemployment or have just stopped working, reducing the workforce available. A new study has found that the pandemic forced more older workers to retire, often before they were financially ready, by as much as an additional 1.7 million Americans. When unemployed, to be counted and paid, you have to show that you are ‘trying’ to get a job. But, if you are no longer trying to get a job or outside the window of unemployment benefits, people fall off the map. NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, accused by 11 women of sexual harassment or assault in civil lawsuits, despite his daily denials, finally announced his resignation on Tuesday, scheduled to hand over the rains to the Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul on 8/22. Cuomo has yet to be criminally charged. The media, particularly MSNBC, who saw Cuomo as a hero, has now turned on him and actually seems irritated with him. The investigation into the allegations against Cuomo and possibly his Impeachment process will continue, as there were no deals made, per Hochul. An Appeals Court has upheld the murder conviction of ex-Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, who killed her neighbor, Botham Jean in his own home. A Federal judge has kept the CDC moratorium against evictions, but says it’s illegal. The moratorium was imposed by the Biden administration last week. If you are applying for a job, experts recommend that you get vaccinated. A second round of Chile Tax Credit checks has hit families’ bank accounts. Federal data shows fewer families struggled to pay their bills after the first, July, round of the new monthly checks.

Bankruptcy:

Nothing to report today.

International News:

Sorry for the upcoming rant, but my US Army Green Berets came home only six weeks ago from East Afghanistan, where they attempted to pack up 20 years of US gear for the massive pullout out of Afghanistan, with the backdrop of the Afghan Army and its Commando unit stepping up the defend Afghanistan against the Taliban. The US cold-heartedly did not speed up the process of citizenship for the Afghan interpreters or their families, who worked with the US soldiers, leaving many to likely be executed as traitors by the Taliban. In short order, news reports every day indicate that the Taliban is over-running the Afghan army and has now seized some 65% of Afghanistan. Many of the Afghan army simply surrendered and also surrendered the US weaponry that they had been given by the US, including battle helicopters. There are concerns that many women have been punished for having their hair showing under Sharia law, others have been ‘married off’ to various Taliban fighters, and others have fled to Kabul. Kabul is the largest city in Afghanistan and the last of the large cities that has not yet fallen to the Taliban. As an example of the ineptitude of the planning of this mass withdrawal of the US, that harkens back to the mass withdrawal of the Soviet Union before (which may have contributed to the 1991 breaking up of the Soviet Union), the US now has to send some 3,500 US soldiers back to Kabul so that the US Embassy can be safely evacuated. The Pentagon says those troops will arrive Sunday. Shouldn’t someone have thought about that when they planned this? Anyway, without even going into whether the US military should have been there in the first place 20 years ago, I’m just baffled by the government’s apparent surprise that the Taliban is taking over and doing it so quickly that they realize they have to send more troops over just to get the Embassy evacuated. And, no, I don’t know how else they could have done it and I’m not providing anything in the way of an alternate solution. However, I recognize that should the country or most of the country fall under Taliban rule, it will likely have further military implications for the neighboring countries, which includes some of our allies. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Afghanistan has told staff to destroy sensitive materials. The Taliban now control 50% of the countries’ provincial capitals. The UK’s former hub in Afghanistan has been taken by the Taliban. Siberia is struggling with record wildfires. The Indonesian Army has finally stopped “virginity tests” on females. UK Police say that the man who went on a rare shooting spree there and killed 5, including a 3-year-old child, had a gun license. The suspect was found dead at the scene. Algerian officials are probing a mob lynching of a man accused of setting fires that devastated the region. Greece is also suffering from wildfires. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the first part of its Sixth Assessment Report on the state of knowledge of climate change and its effects.

Florida:

.

The children returned to school in Florida this week, however it was with a mixture of mandated masks and no masks. 4 Broward County educators died from COVID-19 within a 24-hour period. At least 3 of the teachers were unvaccinated. The news comes just days after Broward County’s school board voted to defy the Governor’s order and require students to wear masks in school. Florida Governor DeSantis, on 7/30, banned mandates requiring students to wear masks. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the CDC recommend that K-12 students and staff returning for in-person learning should wear masks as part of a “layered prevention strategy”, especially since children under 12 do not yet qualify for vaccination. Unfortunately, Florida has been breaking records lately for new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Florida is planning new COVID-19 antibody treatment “strike teams” which can be mobilized quickly to facilities with severe cases. I keep hearing anecdotally from friends in the medical industry about some particular drug that can be administered in the first few days of the virus and wipe out almost all of the symptoms, but it is not approved by the FDA.  440 Palm Beach County students have already been forced into quarantine, just days into the new school year.

Jokes and Such:

Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J

A Duck walks into a bar

“Got any bread?”

“No”

“Got any bread?”

“NO”

“Got any bread?”

“NO! if you ask me again, I’ll nail your bill to the bar!”

“Got any nails?”

“No.”

“Got any bread?”

I was sitting in a Chinese restaurant, thinking about how duckling means little duck. So, I cancelled my order of dumplings.

Three men die in a car accident and go to Heaven. At the pearly gates, Saint Peter says, you may enter, but don’t step on any of the ducks. Well, it turned out there were ducks all over the place and it was almost impossible to avoid stepping on them.

After just a few hours, despite his best efforts, one man stepped on a duck. Saint Peter strolled over with a heavy chain and an extremely ugly woman and said “I told you.” He then chained the two together for eternity.

The next day, despite his best efforts, the second man stepped on a duck. Once again, Saint Peter strolled over with a heavy chain and an extremely ugly woman and said “I told you.” He then chained the two together for eternity.

The third man managed to avoid stepping on ducks for 11 months. Then, one day he sees Saint Peter walking towards him with a heavy chain and a gorgeous woman. He chains them together for eternity without a word.

The man looks at the woman and acclaims, “what did I do to deserve such an honor?!?”

The woman answers, “well, I don’t know about you, but I stepped on a duck.”

Repo Commentary-07/15/21

I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/e education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo

I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry.

  • I have completed the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals. Our new normal of e-Learning.
  • I am sharing my opinion and expertise with the industry in articles in various periodicals. 
  • I am consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo.\
  • I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums.

Kidwell Consultants, LLC is available FOR HIRE as a consultant. I’m actually not that busy (for me) at the moment.  So, if you need my Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeff@kidwellconsultants.com) or (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested  in entertaining (70-80%) you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. You have more than enough stress already!  Feel free, as always, to send me information, comments or pictures, to make it better! 

Holidays or Events (07/15):

  • Get To Know Your Customers Day
  • Gummi Worm Day
  • I Love Horses Day
  • National Be A Dork Day
  • National Give Something Away Day
  • National Pet Fire Safety Day
  • National Respect Canada Day
  • National Tapioca Day
  • Orange Chicken Day
  • Saint Swithin’s Day
  • Bon Festival (Kanto region, Japan)
  • Elderly Man Day (Kiribati) naturally, right after my birthday lol
  • Festival of Santa Rosalia (Palermo, Sicily)
  • Sultan’s Birthday (Brunei Darussalam)

Some Famous People Born on (07/15):

  • 980-Ichijo, Japanese emperor
  • 1606-Rembrandt, Dutch painter and etcher
  • 1850-Frances Xavier Cabrini, Italian-American nun and saint
  • 1911-Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton, English geographer and politician
  • 1929-Ian Stewart, Scottish race driver
  • 1935-Alex Karras, American football player, wrestler, and actor
  • 1938-Barry Goldwater, Jr, American lawyer and politician
  • 1944-Millie Jackson, American singer-songwriter
  • 1945-Jan Michael Vincent, American actor
  • 1946-Linda Rondstadt, American singer-songwriter, producer, and actress
  • 1946-Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei
  • 1951-Jesse Ventura, American wrestler, actor, and politician
  • 1952-Marky Ramone, American drummer and songwriter (The Ramones)
  • 1956-Barry Melrose, Canadian ice hockey player, coach, and sportscaster
  • 1960-Kim Alexis, American fashion model
  • 1961-Forest Whitaker, American actor
  • 1963-Brigitte Nielsen, Danish-Italian actress

I would like to thank everyone for you overwhelming amount of texts, calls, LinkedIn messages, emails, Facebook posts, and FB Messenger messages, wishing me a Happy Birthday on 07/11. I was actually a little blue, as I woke up, but you all took me out of my funk and made my birthday very special. I appreciate it and feel blessed to have you all in my life.

Daily Weird Facts:

For those who romanticize a burial at sea, the company Eternal Reefs mixes the cremated remains of a person with concrete to create a “pearl” onto which loved ones can etch personal messages, handprints or mementos. The pearl is then encased in a “reef ball” that is dropped into the sea, where it provides a new coral reef habitat for fish and other sea life, completing the ‘circle of life’.

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Never apologize for having high standards. People who want to be in your life will rise up and meet them.”—Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18

$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18

$48.63 on 01/07/19 

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21

$66.34/barrel on 03/05

$61.30/barrel on 04/01

$63.68/barrel on 05/13

$72.25/barrel on 06/15

$74.86/barrel on 07/02, just where it was on 10/5/18 at the top of the list. What a roller coaster!

$72.30/barrel on 07/15

The price of Oil appears to have leveled off at these highs. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station held steady in the past 2 weeks, at $2.98/gallon. However, gasoline prices have been rising faster in surrounding areas (up to $3.69/gallon) and in other parts of the country. 

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:

104.80 on 02/07/20

99.23 on 03/11/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

110.63 on 04/01/21

108.61 on 04/28/21

110.05 on 06/15/21

111.44 on 07/02/21

109.94 on 07/15/21

One Euro was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.1426 

12/06/19 at $1.1688

03/11/20 at $1.1937

05/04/20 at $1.0903

12/16/20 at $1.2196

02/04/21 at $1.2625

04/01/21 at $1.1774

04/28/21 at $1.2123

07/02/21 at $1.1822

07/15/21 at $1.1806

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.2655 

12/06/19 at $1.3819

02/07/20 at $1.3574

03/24/20 at $1.2231

12/16/20 at $1.3494

02/16/21 at $1.3903

06/15/21 at $1.4083

07/02/21 at $1.3743

07/15/21 at $1.3819

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24/18

1.2530 on 12/06/19

1.2390 on 01/17/20

1.3540 on 03/18/20

1.2752 on 12/16/20

1.2186 on 06/15/21

1.2417 on 07/02/21

1.2539 on 07/15/21

With data showing reemerging inflation and the Fed’s concern about inflation, precious metals, a historic hedge against inflation may become a popular topic again soon. Interestingly, the number of people in the US invested in Gold and Silver is far less than those invested in Equities.  In fact, while about 50% of Americans invest, only 10.8% of the population owns Gold and only about 11.6% of the country owns Silver. Gold prices:

10/02/19 $1,498.70/ounce 

03/11/20 $1,641.00/ounce

07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce

11/30/20 $1,774.00 

01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00

03/05/21 $1,698.70

04/28/21 $1,782.20

06/15/21 $1,859.90

07/02/21 $1,789.00

07/15/21 $1,828.00

Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25/18 

$6,350.00 on 10/5/18

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,598.90 on 01/16/19 

$3,421.10 on 02/06/19 

$8,100.00 on 05/16/19

$7,215.79 on 05/17/19

$11,919.30 on 06/25/19

$9,790.37 on 07/24/19

$10,183.90 on 09/10/19

$8,235.46 on 10/02/19

$7,470.41 on 12/06/19
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

$7,871.60 on 03/11/20

$3,867.00 on 03/13/20

$5,216.64 on 03/18/20

$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20 pre halving event

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20 post halving event

$10,849.00 on 07/27/20

$15,160.90 on 11/10/20

$19,411.50 on 11/30/20

$20,665.10 on 12/16/20

$31,592.20 on 01/04/21

$36,607.50 on 02/04/21

$48,526.90 on 02/16/21

$58,093.71 on 02/21/21

$43,170.01 on 02/28/21

$49,207.43 on 03/05/21

$58,979.60 on 04/01/21

$63,237.00 on 04/15/21

$54,886.50 on 04/28/21

$54,242.00 on 05/12/21

$39,804.90 on 06/15/21

$33,039.30 on 07/02/21

$31,280.00 on 07/15/21

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. On 3/13/20, it had cratered at $3,867.  It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  It exploded in early 2021, as new corporate investors (including Elon Musk) jumped in. On 4/15/21, it hit a high of $63,237.  It has since made almost a 50% downward correction, falling back to early 2021 levels recently, wiping out all 2021 gains. It continues to slip further. It’s beginning to have an inverse relationship to Gold, like bonds tend to do with equities. The SEC has decided to put off a decision on WisdomTree’s proposed bitcoin ETF and requested public comments on the application. The SEC wants views on whether the ETF will be vulnerable to manipulation. Fidelity Digital Assets is increasing staff by 70%. Fed’s Powell favors Fed-issued central bank digital currency over multiple private cryptocurrencies or stablecoins.  

Brexit:

Another deadline has just passed, June 30, 2021, when most EU citizens had to apply to live permanently in the UK as settled residents. Over 6 million EU citizens have applied to settle in post-Brexit UK.  Post-Brexit talks on London access to EU have stalled. Brexit and COVID-19 have caused a huge jump in pay for lorry (truck) drivers. A lorry driver shortage is threatening the German confectionery giant Haribo, in getting their supplies of Goldbears and Tangfastics to UK shops. The EU has postponed ban on British meat sales in Northern Ireland. The import protection for the UK steel industry was set to expire, but the UK made a last-ditch extension. New UK law, the Subsidy Control Bill, will replace EU-wide rules on government assistance to firms. The mobile phone operator EE is reintroducing Europe roaming charges for new UK customers to use their phones in Europe. Many think that the new Northern Ireland Protocol has broken the union of the United Kingdom. 

Global Financial News:

Prices paid by US consumers surged in June 2021 by the most since 2008, blowing by all the forecasts and challenging the Federal Reserve and its commitment to monetary easing and support for the economy. The core, without volatile food and energy components, rose by 4.5% versus June 2020, the largest advance since November 1991! Morgan Stanley beat earnings expectations with $14.8 billion in revenue in Q2 2021. Wells Fargo earnings for Q2 2021 also beat economists’ estimates, with a $6 billion profit versus last year’s $3.5 billion profit for the same period. Of course, some of that was due to the return of $1.6 billion it has set aside in 2020 to cover loan defaults. BNY Mellon and US Bancorp also exceeded analysts’ expectations. Goldman Sachs followed its earnings announcement by issuing $5.5 billion in new bonds. The borrowing will facilitate Goldman’s expansion of its prime brokerage business. A Bloomberg Intelligence survey shows that virtually all of the largest US asset-management firms now offer and ETF or have plans to do so. Standing currently at $488.5 billion, ETF inflows this year are well on track to break the $497 billion all-time record set in 2020. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink has contested the widely held assertion that the current bout of inflation is temporary, and added that he expects the Fed will be obliged to take steps to curb the trend. He expects that the rate will climb to around 3.5% or 4.0%. Financial Times reports that analysts believe the main drivers of this current inflation are used car prices, energy costs, home rentals and spending on travel and entertainment. Pretty much a breakout surge from COVID-19 lockdown. UBS said that it is incorporating the open-technology FlexTrade order management system with its new US outsourced trading desk. They hope to lean on FlexTrade’s track record with buy-side trading desks to extend their global outsourced execution to additional client segments. India’s central bank has banned Mastercard from issuing any new credit or debit cards to domestic customers for an indefinite period, following bans that it already placed on American Express and Diners Club. The central bank says that Mastercard failed to comply with the requirement that payment data must be stored exclusively in India. Inflation fears could cause problems for ESG investing, as rising energy costs may prompt calls for governments to curb those costs by making supplies, any supplies, more plentiful. So far, Europe has emerged as the major force globally in sustainable finance. For European issuers, $1 out of every $5 raised so far in 2021 has been tied to borrowers’ performance on environment, social and governance (ESG) criteria. 

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. The specter of inflation and potential for future Fed tightening spooked the stock market, after the FOMC meeting announcement on 6/16/21. However, the resilient stock market recovered and continued its rally.  

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates). We closed at a record high yesterday.:

07/14/21  34,933.23

07/01/21  34,633.53 

05/12/21  33,587.66

03/31/21  32,981.55

01/13/21   31,060.47

12/31/20   30,606.48

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/22/20   27,005.84

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/08/20   27,572.44

6/03/20     26,269.89

5/27/20     25,548.27

4/17/20     24,242.49

3/23/20    18,591.93

3/03/20     25,917.41

2/12/20     29,551.42 record high

S&P 500 has closed on:

10/5/18 at 2,885.58 

12/26/18 at 2,467.70 

12/06/19 at 3,145.91

02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 2,237.40

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/13/21 at 3,809.84

02/03/21 at 3,830.17

02/16/21 at 3,923.59

03/05/21 at 3,841.94

03/31/21 at 3,972.89

05/12/21 at 4,063.04

07/01/21 at 4,319.94

07/14/21 at 4,374.30

S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record on 12/8 of 3,702.25, then backed off, then shot higher again to a new record 02/16.  It has continued to be up at new record highs. 

Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

12/06/19 at 8,656.07

02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high 

03/23/20 at 6,860.67

06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/13/21 at 13,128.95 

02/03/21 at 13,610.54

02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high

03/05/21 at 12,920.15

03/31/21 at 13,246.87

05/12/21 at 13,031.68

07/01/21 at 14,522.38

07/14/21 at 14,644.95

The US Treasury market had seen yields rise slightly ahead of the 06/16/21 FOMC meeting. Then, the announcement caused a massive shift in the entire curve, with the front-end yields dramatically rising (2years and 3years), and the back-end yields dramatically falling (7years, 10years, and 30years). 

2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

02/06/20 at 1.44%

03/11/20 at 0.50%

03/17/20 at 0.47%

03/23/20 at 0.28% 

05/10/20 at 0.16% 

07/24/20 at 0.14% 

12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/13/21 at 0.14%

02/03/21 at 0.11%

02/16/21 at 0.11%

03/05/21 at 0.14%

03/31/21 at 0.16%

05/12/21 at 0.16%

07/01/21 at 0.25% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.23%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

12/06/19 at 1.64%

02/06/20 at 1.43%

03/11/20 at 0.58%

03/17/20 at 0.54%

03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.21%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!

01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!

01/13/21 at 0.22%

02/16/21 at 0.17%

03/05/21 at 0.32%

03/31/21 at 0.35%

05/12/21 at 0.35%

07/01/21 at 0.47% wow!

07/14/21 at 0.44%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

02/07/20 at 1.45%

03/11/20 at 0.66%

03/17/20 at 0.56%

03/23/20 at 0.38% 

03/26/20 at 0.51%

03/31/20 at 0.37%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/13/21 at 0.48%

02/03/21 at 0.46%

02/16/21 at 0.42%

03/05/21 at 0.79%

03/31/21 at 0.92%

05/12/21 at 0.87%

07/01/21 at 0.89% not much increase

07/14/21 at 0.80%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

02/06/20 at 1.56%

03/11/20 at 0.78%

03/17/20 at 0.91%

03/23/20 at 0.63% 

03/26/20 at 0.72%

03/31/20 at 0.55%

07/24/20 at 0.44% record low

11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/13/21 at 0.80%

02/03/21 at 0.81%

02/16/21 at 0.76%

03/05/21 at 1.23%

03/31/21 at 1.40%

05/12/21 at 1.34%

07/01/21 at 1.24% 

07/14/21 at 1.11%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65% 

12/06/19 at 1.84% 

02/06/20 at 1.65% 

03/11/20 at 0.82% wow!

03/17/20 at 1.02% 

03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again

07/24/20 at 0.59% record low

11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/13/21 at 1.10%

02/03/21 at 1.15%

02/16/21 at 1.09%

03/05/21 at 1.56%

03/31/21 at 1.74%

05/12/21 at 1.69%

07/01/21 at 1.48%

07/14/21 at 1.37% 

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

02/06/20 at 2.11%

03/11/20 at 1.30%

03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!

03/23/20 at 1.33% back down

07/24/20 at 1.23% record low

11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/13/21 at 1.82%

02/03/21 at 1.92%

02/16/21 at 1.84%

03/05/21 at 2.28%

03/31/21 at 2.41%

05/12/21 at 2.40%

07/01/21 at 2.07% dramatic drop almost below magic 2%

07/14/21 at 1.98%

Housing News:

Fannie Mae forecasts that “housing costs could eventually boost inflation by as much as 2% by the end of next year, though the effects could be felt sooner.” Ironically, the soaring housing market may wind up derailing the economic recovery, as Susan Estes points out.  Remember regulations and their unintended consequences in OUR market. Well, apparently the banned evictions ruling for the pandemic has caused a Hamptons home owner to not be able to enter her premises or remove the renter’s furniture. Meanwhile, her furniture is sitting in the garage of the home, right in front of her car, that she now can’t use. The renter apparently has been unable to find a job. Maybe the odd part, she is a real estate agent. Forbearance exits are speeding up, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, down to 3.76% as of 7/4/21. A shareholder sued Rocket Mortgage, the Detroit-based behemoth, for allegedly misleading disclosures to conceal adverse market conditions. Purchases of second homes declined in June. President Biden is renewing his push for housing in his new $3.5 trillion Infrastructure Plan. Mortgage Applications jumped 16% for the week ending 7/9/21, after several consecutive weeks of drops. The Mortgage Bankers Association points to increased refinancing as mortgage rates dipped again. However, the prior week’s report showed a drop in mortgage applications to the lowest level since January 2020. Let’s look at those official rates (per HousingWire.com):

  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances (now $548,250 or less) decreased to 3.09% from 3.15%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances (above $548,250) decreased to 3.16% from 3.20%.
  • The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed rate mortgages decreased to 2.48% from 2.52%. 

Repo/Securities Financing News:                              

At the 6/16 FOMC meeting announcement, the Fed could have increased the rate on the RRP to 0.05%, which might have forced GC repo rates higher to compete with the Fed paying cash providers 5bp more. However, it wouldn’t have solved the present dislocation that there isn’t enough collateral for the cash in the market and the RRP is a disintermediation of the broker/dealers with their own typical cash providers. Yet, the Fed chose to raise the RRP by 5bp. The second possible solution, to taper QE, was probably the logical choice, but would be the least friendly to other markets and perhaps to the public. However, the Fed, while not beginning the taper, decided to hint at it coming. This could solve the collateral shortage problem. The third possible solution, was to adjust the Interest On Excess Reserves (IOER) rate higher, which would in turn raise the average Fed Funds rate, which would in turn raise the GC Repo rate, since all three products compete with each other for that elusive cash. The Fed also chose to raise the IOER rate by 5bp. Some market analysts actually mentioned this as a major influence on the subsequent fall in the equity market, saying that cash left the equity market to take advantage of IOER. Really? I doubt that had much of a factor at all. I think the move out of Equities was due to several other reasons, including the rising competitive yield in US Treasuries and other Fixed Income products, the warning of future Fed tightenings in the Fed statement, and the specters of inflation and nagging unemployment discussed by the Fed in its statement. So, these are monetary policy concerns and economic fundamentals concerns, which made the equity market jittery, not the IOER tweak. We’ve got another FOMC meeting coming up, so we may see some more Fed rhetoric and tweaks coming. One thing that I missed and my friend Scott Skrym brings to my attention, in the fine print of the FOMC minutes, was mention for the first time in a long time of the Standing Repo Facility (SRF). Basically, the SRF rate would be set at the top of the Fed Funds target range (currently that would be 0.25%), would be available at first only to the Primary Dealers, eventually extended to approved counterparties. There are some problems with the rate and the potential flood of collateral the Fed could receive on a daily basis, the opposite of the amount of cash the Fed is currently getting dumped on it on a daily basis. It also calls into question the term that the Fed has avoided in the 39 years that I’ve been in the industry, and that is to become “Lender of Last Resort”. I’m sure we will hear much more about this in the future from the Fed.

Tom Daniels has left his post of Head of Securities Lending business development for BNY Mellon, after 14 years. CloudMargin is collaborating with Ivno now. LCH has opened up buyside clearing access on RepoClear. Insight Investment became the first fund manager to transact cleared repo on behalf of a UK defined benefit pension fund. DataLend (part of EquiLend) says global securities lending revenue is up 17% in the first half of 2021. There have been a lot of hot stocks and movement into emerging markets. ICMA has a new chief executive, as Bryan Pascoe takes over for Martin Scheck. South Korea lifted their short-selling ban in May, leading to over $130 million being traded through Tru Technologies’ securities finance platform there. ISLA is meeting its objective to deliver a minimum viable securities lending common domain model for market participants by mid-2021. The European Commission has issued an Interim Report on CSDR and is considering a REFIT legislative review of CSDR. Sharegain has released a new platform for real-time borrowing of securities electronically. Deutsche Borse is extending digital asset offering with its acquisition of Crypto Finance. The UAE-based equity clearing house, Dubai Clear, has become a member of CCP12. Marie Stringer has joined Pirum as client services team leader. Finadium has completed its 7th survey of 37 products across 22 firms in collateral management technology, leading to an analysis of market trends in Securities Finance Monitor. 

Happy 20th Anniversary to Eurex Repo, part of the Deutsche Borse family, and a critical element of the European Financial Markets.  Congratulations to my good friend, Guido Stroemer, co-founder and CEO of HQLAx, after an infusion of capital and partnership with JPMorgan Chase. Guido, I’m still checking my mail for one of your stylish sleeveless suits! I don’t know if you caught my partner, Roy Zimmerhansl’s “Fundamentals of Securities Lending” on Saturday’s livestreaming. Very informative.  This sounds like something I would have worked on, as Eurex announces that it is expanding buy-side access to cleared repo business through its ISA Direct product. This will broaden its availability to a greater range of market participants. Hana Bank became the first South Korean bank to clear at LCH ForexClear. Goldman Sachs is adding to its securities finance team.  

Securities Finance Industry Conferences

This section is a work in progress. I am searching new sources of virtual conferences, networking, and symposiums, rather than just continuing to run the 25-30 annual physical conferences for the industry, many of which are no longer being held, because of the pandemic.  

  • ICMA Fintech Week London:  7/12/21-7/16/21, Virtual.
  • HIS Markit Securities Finance Q2 2021 Webinar: 7/14/21, Virtual.
  • 25th IMN/AFME Global ABS 2021:  9/27/21-9/28/21, London.
  • ICMA/ERCC Professional Repo Market and Collateral Management Workshop 2021:  9/27/21-10/5/21, Virtual.
  • 37th Annual RMA Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference:  10/18/21-10/21/21, will be in person (first time since PASLA was cancelled), Aventura, FL. I have not missed an RMA, and it’s in Florida, so…
  • FundForum Internnational/Clearstream: 10/20/21-10/22/21, Monaco.
  • 2021 RMA Annual Risk Management Conference:  10/25/21-10/28/21, TBA.
  • Finadium Rates & Repo 2021:  November 10, 2021, TBA if Virtual or on location in NYC.
  • 27th IMN ABS East 2021:  12/13/21-12/15/21, Miami Beach, FL.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. 

The next FOMC meetings are:  07/28/21, 09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in.  

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.

The Fed Chairman Powell is feeling heat from all sides, as inflation spikes. He was brought before a House panel to explain policy and the economy. He is dismissing claims of Fed complacency on inflation. He said he still expects inflation to ease. While the ECB is accelerating its plans for digital euro project, one Fed official is throwing cold water on US CBDC plans. The Vice Chair says “We do not need to fear Stablecoins.” The Fed has been weighing a digital dollar, as cryptocurrency hits a “critical point”. The Fed’s balance sheet is expected by some analysts to exceed $9 trillion, after it starts reducing its monthly asset purchases. It is already past $8 trillion. 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. Much quieter than it has been previously:

07/14 5.1 south of the Fiji Islands

07/14 4.5 ESE of Mawlaik, Myanmar

07/14 4.8 ESE of Laikit, Laikit II, Indonesia

07/14 4.6 13km SSE of Hualien City, Taiwan

07/14 5.0 43km W of Tianpeng, China

07/14 4.6 97km SW of Bengkulu, Indonesia

07/14 5.3 166km SW of Merizo Village, Guam

07/14 4.8 32km ENE of Chicureo Abajo, Chile

07/13 4.8 153km ESE of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

07/13 5.0 north of Ascension Island

07/13 4.9 146km ESE of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia

07/13 5.1 42km NNW of Neiafu, Tonga

Scientists have found that invisible bursts of electricity from volcanoes signal explosive eruptions. Did you know that there are currently 43 volcanoes with continuing eruptions active in the world right now? I guess I can understand this piece of news, but then again, I’m not sure whether it’s worth the risk. Researchers say that the brine released by the magma beneath volcanoes is a potential “liquid ore” containing metals such as gold, copper, and lithium. Some of those precious metals have seen their value increase around the world, as companies pursue the materials needed to produce batteries. However, extracting that liquid ore may prove to be very difficult and dangerous. I get the concept, that it may be easier to allow the Earth to disgorge the precious metals to companies, rather than have the companies go through the laborious process of digging or mining for them. 

Weather:

Some parts of the nation are still seeing record high temperatures, with Las Vegas ringing in at 117 degrees and Death Valley at 130 degrees (it reported a low of 107.7 degrees overnight, the highest overnight low ever recorded in North America), as the heatwave out West continues, fueling not only the Climate Change scientists, but also some major wildfires again. There are now 55 active large wildfires burning at this time, with the largest and most uncontained in Oregon. Over the weekend, in the US West, some 24 million people were under heat alerts, more than 100 people died due to heat (one could call a mass casualty event), and across 12 states, the fires burned 768,307 acres. Several pockets of thunderstorms and heavy rain have been pestering the Interior Northeast, northern Plains, Southwest, and here in Southern Florida. 

Let’s go back to the subject of ‘rain’. This has been gnawing at me for a while, especially since Florida has already begun its August pattern of early in the day 90s and oppressive humidity, followed by afternoon thunderstorms. I wanted to focus on the “Chance of Rain” enigma. I think most of my life I thought when a meteorologist (or a “weather presenter” like Al Roker) says, “the Chance of Rain is 30% today, but increases to 40% tomorrow,” that they were saying There is a 30% chance of you seeing rain here in West Palm Beach and tomorrow those odds increase (so you better golf today!). it turns out that that simple phrase is far from simple and has different interpretations. TikTok recently circulated a video that claimed a 30% chance of rain meant that there would only be rain in 30% of the viewing area. How are you supposed to know how far a viewing area extends for a local TV station, the radio, or a cellphone app? It turns out that the TikTok video is incorrect. However, NOAA’s Weather Program Office said that Probability of Precipitation (PoP) is very difficult to explain. This stems from the fact that in their study, they found that there are 5 different commonly used definitions for PoP among meteorologists themselves. Here they are:

  • The TikTok version, that PoP=C x A, where C is the confidence that it’ll rain somewhere in the forecast area and A means the percentage of that area that will receive a measurable amount of rain. So, a 50% chance of rain in 80% of the area would be 40% PoP.
  • NOAA says PoP measures the likelihood that you’ll see rain at any given point within the forecast area within a 12-hour time period. This is the more commonly accepted definition.
  • The National Weather Service says “it’s the chance of precipitation, which we define as 100th of an inch of rain falling at a particular point over a certain period of time.”
  • Others believe that a 30% chance of rain refers to the proportion of a given area that with 100% assurance will receive rain.
  • Still others believe that PoP actually means that you’ll be seeing rain for 30% of the time in a given forecast area over a certain period. 

The two most accepted definitions are the NOAA and NWS ones. This whole problem stems from meteorologists and apps not giving us a “reference class” when giving us a percentage. A point of comparison would anchor the intended meaning of the forecast.  

The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGAN June 1st and ends November 30th.  According to CNN, one thing about 2020 that people didn’t notice during the pandemic is that hurricane forecasts improved. Focus is now on size and speed of the approaching storm and the critical “cone of uncertainty”, which affects a certain population. 2021 is expected by the NOAA to be an Active hurricane season. They expect a likely range of 13-20 named storms (winds of 39mph or higher). They expect 6-10 of them to be Hurricanes, and of that 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger. There are currently no tropical cyclones in the Atlantic at this time. Elsa has moved into the storm graveyard, south of Greenland. 

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. In the Eastern North Pacific. There are currently no tropical cyclones in the Central North Pacific. 

Sports News:       

MLB:

In the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series. 

For 2021, MLB is slowly returning back to normal. We are in the All-Star Game break, which was 7/13. No, they are back to not counting (meaning that the winning League gets Home Team privileges for the World Series). It is back to being just an exhibition game for the fans (along with a homerun derby). In the end, the American League won again. And, once again, the All-Star Game bombed in the TV ratings. So, did the All-Star uniforms, according to fans and analysts. The Nielsen numbers were horrible at 8.24 million viewers. That made it the 2nd least watched All-Star Game of all time.  Maybe, they SHOULD make them count again. 

One player who shined and probably kept the ratings from being much worse, was Shohei Ohtani of the Angels. The phenom participated in the Home Run Derby and wowed the crowd hitting 28 HRs in the first round, but ultimately losing to Manny Soto in a swing-off. But, Ohtani was very respectable, especially for a starting pitcher who is a HR hitter. This season, he has already hit 32 HRs, more than any Japanese-born MLB player in history (halfway through the season), and currently the most in MLB (by 2), and is also pitching great from the mound. He has currently hit 9 more HRs then the closest participants in the Derby. He is the hunt for the AL MVP award. He is batting .279, has stolen 12 bases, has a .364 on-base percentage, and .700 slugging percentage. Oh, and he is also 4-1 with an ERA of 3.49 on the mound. He is a rare two-way player in modern day baseball, harkening back to Babe Ruth in the early 1900s, a great pitcher and homerun king. Ohtani leads the AL with a 5.6 Wins Above Replacement. I’ve heard some AL fans complaining that he gets to pitch and hit in games against their teams, when typically pitchers are replaced by DHs, but Otani hits as his own DH or sometimes as a RF. So, he is well within the rules. He is also at a lot more risk of getting injured, as opposed to most AL starting pitchers who throw for 7 innings every 5 days and never step on the field the other days during a game. While he didn’t win the Homerun Derby, he captured the hearts and awe of fans and turned HOF players into fans. In the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, Ohtani was the first player in All-Star Game history to be a starting pitcher and also bat lead-off, and the Game’s first two-way starter since 1933.  

Pete Alonso ultimately won the Derby. On the horizon, is the 7/31 Trade Deadline. Rumors of trades abound. 

Current standings (07/13), after about 87-92 games:

AL EAST is still kind of a 4-team race, but Boston and Tampa Bay have been pulling ahead of the others. Baltimore is already 26 games out of first place, having lost 7 of their last 10. The Red Sox have the 3rd best record in MLB, tied with the Astros for best in the American League. Still have half a season to play, from a scarred Red Sox fan. 

Boston

Tampa Bay

Toronto

NY Yankees

Baltimore

AL CENTRAL this was starting to look like the runaway division for the White Sox, but the Indians had righted the ship and closed the gap with the Sox. The Sox had lost 7 of their last 10 games. That just flipped around, with the Sox winning 7 of their last 10 games, while the Indians lost 7 of their last 10 games, pushing the distance to 8 games between them. The bottom 3 teams are all 15-18 games out of first place.

Chicago WS

Cleveland

Detroit

Minnesota

Kansas City

AL WEST the A’s have been a surprise, but the Astros have finally overtaken them, winning 7 of their last 10. There isn’t a lot of distance between them though, and the Mariners are hanging tough too. The Angels will have a tough call on the trade deadline.  

Houston

Oakland

Seattle
LA Angels

Texas

NL EAST this division continues to underperform, which leaves almost every team still in the running.  The Mets now have a 3 ½ game lead over the Phillies, who have won 7 of their last 10, as the Nats lost 8 of their last 10, and fell below both the Phillies and the Braves. The Mets are the only team in the division above .500.

NY Mets

Philadelphia

Atlanta

Washington

Miami

NL CENTRAL The Brewers are holding on to first place by 4 games over the Reds, who just won 8 of 10, while the Cubs fell to 3rd, losing 8 of their last 10. 

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

Chicago Cubs

St. Louis

Pittsburgh

NL WEST the World Champion Dodgers looked like they would run away with the division, but the Giants said ‘hold my beer’. Plenty of analysts said that the Giants were not good enough to hold first place, but yet they are still 2 games ahead of the Dodgers. You can’t count the Padres out either, who are only 6 games back of the Giants. Led by teams with the two best records in MLB, this high-flying division has put the Diamondbacks in the rearview mirror, behind first place by 32 1/2 games. 

San Francisco

LA Dodgers

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

Golf:

The PGA Tour 2021 season rolls on. Next up, The 149th Open Championship (or we call the British Open), the 3rd Major, to be held at Royal St. George’s, to be played 07/15-07/18. 2015 champion Zach Johnson just tested positive for COVID-19 and is out of The Open. Bubba Watson was identified as COVID-19 close contact and also pulled out of The Open. Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama was also forced to withdraw from The Open, after a positive COVID-19 test result. The funeral for slain golf pro Gene Siller was held Monday.  At the American Century Championship in South Lake Tahoe, NV, a celebrity tournament, basketball player Vinny Del Negro became the first basketball player to win the tournament, outlasting pitcher John Smoltz in a Playoff on Sunday. This was despite Smoltz eagling the 18th hole. They used the Stableford scoring system. I’ve played in a couple of tournaments with that format, and it is very confusing. QB Tony Romo came in 3rd. World Golf HOF Annika Sorenstam came in 4th. Charles Barkley tied for 76th out of 87 finishers. That’s significant because the NBA star lost twice, since he had made a $100,000 bet on that he would be in the top 70 of the tournament. Just missed. NHL player Mike Modano hit an albatross (3 under par on a Par 5) by holing out from 205 yards on the 18th hole.  It was the first albatross in the history of the tournament. DeChambeau says he and his former caddie “are good”. He selected instructor Brian Zeigler as his new caddie. Lucas Glover ended a 10-year title drought by winning the PGA Tour John Deere Classic. Jim Furyk bounced back and won the US Senior Open by 3 strokes. Nasa Hataoka won the rain-shortened Marathon LPGA Classic. Min Woo Lee won the Scottish Open after a playoff. But, the biggest surprise at the Scottish Open was the video of Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and his caddie on the teebox chatting, when a spectator stepped out of the crowd, grabbed Rory’s headcover, then his 6-iron right out of Rory’s bag, and proceeded to the tee, as if to hit a tee shot. The three chatting just stared unmoving in disbelief. Security tackled the walk-on golfer and returned the club and headcover to Rory’s caddie. I’ve never seen anything like that!! Rory may have been a little rattled, as he went on to miss the cut. Argentinian golfer Angel Cabrera was sentenced to 2 years in prison for domestic violence conviction. Last week, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers paired up with Bryson DeChambeau to beat Bucs QB Tom Brady (who had knocked Rodgers out of the NFC Championship, but won the NFL MVP over Brady) who was paired with Phil Mickelson for The Match 2021. 

NFL:

The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV, which was played in Tampa Bay, with the Bucs acting as home team. Despite the odds against it and his age against him, QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl over the Chiefs, 31-9. Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, as he won his 7th Super Bowl, more than any franchise, let alone any player, in 10 trips to the Super Bowl. 

Guess who is an available free agent again? Yup, Le’Veon Bell. He is the perennial free agent, except that year that he refused to play and lost about $875,000 in pay per game that season. He may wind up on the Saints. But, there are other notables this year still looking for an NFL team. DE Melvin Ingram from the Chargers. Superstar CB Richard Sherman from the Seahawks and then the 49ers. He could be a Cowboy. RB Todd Gurley, a fixture of the Rams and then released by the Falcons. He could be a Charger. WR Golden Tate of the Lions and then the Eagles and Giants. He could wind up being a Patriot. However, the Patriots have already grabbed 2 new TE and 2 new WR in the offseason free agency market. Broncos’ TE Demaryius Thomas has retired. The NFL just levied today a $10 million on the Washington Football Team, after a one year investigation into a culture in the organization that caused bullying and harassment over the last 15 years on team employees. The team owner will step aside for now and his wife will take over the reins. On Wednesday, Seahawks’ Richard Sherman was arrested for alleged domestic abuse in Seattle. 

Soccer

The European Championship of FIFA EURO 2020 was decided in an exciting round of penalty kicks after full time, on Sunday (my birthday). Italy beat England. France was the team to beat, and Switzerland surprisingly did just that in a penalty shootout, shockingly knocking France out of the round-of-16 with a tie, after trailing early 3-1. So, the Euro 2016 finalists and reigning world champions were out. England had beaten Germany. After Sunday’s Final match, two England players received a rash of racist tweets and texts from England fans, blaming them for missing penalty kicks on their turns at the end. One of the players has now alleged that UK’s Boris Johnson’s government “stoked the fire” that led to the flood of online racist attacks. Matheus has been released by Barcelona after playing just 17 minutes. De Boer has stepped down as Netherlands head coach. The UEFA Europa League is also being played. Across the pond, the Copa America 2021 was decided with the Final also on Sunday, with Argentina beating Brazil, 1-0. Lionel Messi of Argentina had a statistical dominance over all of the other Copa America players.  Manchester United to challenge Tottenham Hotspurs to sign the $72 million defender, Cristian Romero, who won Copa America. In addition, FC Barcelona is also interested in Romero.  Romero was loaned to Atalanta from Juventus last summer. 

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing. We have begun the next major, Wimbledon. And, American legend Serena Williams retired in tears from Wimbledon in her first round match! She was hoping to win her 8th Wimbledon Singles title and tie Margaret Court’s Grand Slam Singles record of 24. The 39-year-old was leading when she slipped and had to have her left ankle examined. Her odds were good, coming into the tournament, as 2019 champion Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka had withdrawn prior to the tournament. Williams had already passed on the Olympics, to focus on the US Open in September. Other players have complained about Centre Court being very slippery, including England’s Andy Murray. Williams has not won a Slam event since 2017. Osaka, who pulled out of the French Open, after being forced to do press conference, while suffering from anxiety, then passed on Wimbledon, and pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics in her home country, won the ESPY’s Best Woman Athlete award for her bravery and courage to bring to light mental issues that many athletes and people have. 

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion, undefeated Gonzaga.

Olympics:

The 2021 Tokyo Summer Games are still officially on, although some athletes have refused to participate because of the pandemic. They are set to begin 07/23. However, as Japan enters another wave of COVID-19, specifically the Delta variant, they have decided not to have ANY spectators in the Olympic stadium and at some other venues. The Marathon and Baseball will have fans, among some other outdoor sports. Nigeria stunned Team USA men’s basketball 90-87 in an exhibition game. Some of the new sports at this Olympic Games will include: Skateboarding, Surfing, Sport Climbing, Karate, 3×3 Basketball, Baseball (returns), Softball, BMX Freestyle, among others. 

NHL:

The puck dropped on the asterisk season (last season) on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude the same season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans. 

The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but was only 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic. 

It was an exciting Playoffs, despite the odd configuration of the Divisions to be less traveling for the players and more COVID-19 aware. The Cinderella team this year, but perennial Stanley Cup winners in the old days, the Montreal Canadiens, ran into a rough Tampa Bay Lightning team and a goalie who was on fire. They wound up losing in 5 games, 4-1, to the Lightning, who repeated their Stanley Cup victory from last year. That’s an unusual feat nowadays with trades, salary cap and free agency. Goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy won the Conn Smythe Trophy, as the MVP of the Playoffs. Yahoo Sports ran a story about the goalie possibly wearing illegal goaltender equipment, as fans of other teams are looking for a reason for why he was so good, claiming that his pads were oversized. It appears to be just a smear campaign. Next up is the NHL Draft 2021. Pierre McGuire went from ‘Inside the Glass’ as a commentator for NBC Sports to the Senators’ front office. The Oilers have acquired Duncan Keith a longtime star with the Blackhawks for Caleb Jones and a 3rd round pick. The NHL has designated its best free agents and top buy-out candidates. The San Jose Sharks are open for business this off-season, with regular players up for grabs. Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane was just named the Best NHL Player at the ESPY’s. The NHL is expanding to 32 teams for the 2021-22 season, with the addition of the Seattle Kraken in the Pacific Division. There will be a special expansion Draft for the Kraken to fill their bench. If you recall, when the Las Vegas Golden Knights did their expansion Draft, they performed extremely well, getting some of the best players around the league, particularly at goalie. The Bruins signed Brandon Carlo to a contract extension, but Kevin Miller announced his retirement. 

NBA:

Last year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs, when the pandemic shut the regular season down, with just a little over a month left. Late 6/4/20, the NBA reportedly approved a 22-team format to restart the season in the Summer. All games were played at the three venues at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl, starting 7/31. The modified playoff format for this asterisk season began on 10/12. In the end, the Miami Heat lost the Championship to the LA Lakers. 

The NBA season tipped off again on 12/22/20. We are now nearing the end of the Playoffs. We are in the Finals, as the No.2 Phoenix Suns knocked off the No.4 LA Clippers in the Western Conference and the No.3 Milwaukee Bucks chased the No.5 Atlanta Hawks away in the Eastern Conference. The Suns lead in the Finals, 2-1 in games. The Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 41 points kept it from being a 3-0 series. The 2021 NBA Draft is less than 3 weeks away. 

Horse Racing:

Okay, I cry ‘shenanigans!’ so trainer Bob Baffert, who has had a remarkable streak of winners over the last few years, was found to have allowed the Kentucky Derby winner to have been given topical steroids that were banned, disqualifying him, eventually from the victory (although officially not changing that he won, screwing all of the bettors) and suspending for life the trainer Bob Baffert from Churchill Downs racing. A later blood test confirmed the initial blood test, which disqualified the horse, Medina Spirit, from running in the Belmont Stakes in Hempstead, NY. Bob Baffert was also banned from running horses in New York, which would include not only Belmont, but Saratoga, White Plains, etc. However, on Wednesday, a NY federal judge nullified Baffert’s suspension of horse racing in NY, finding the NYRA did not let him adequately respond to claims made against him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit failed those postrace drug tests. 

Auto Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. NASCAR and iRacing announced an official partnership. Gordon said he is retiring from Penske at end of 2021. Six teams were fined after Pocono race. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:

02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon

02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell

02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell

02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron

03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson

03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.

03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney

03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano

04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-Martin Truex Jr.

04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Bowman

04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-Keselowski

05/02/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas-Kyle Busch

05/09/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington-Martin Truex Jr.

05/16/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover, Drydene 400-Alex Bowman

05/23/21 NASCAR Cup Series at COTA, EchoPark Texas GP-Chase Elliott

05/30/21 Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/06/21 Toyota Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway-Kyle Larson

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Open, Texas Motor Speedway-Aric Almirola

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Race, Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/20/21 Ally 400, Nashville Superspeedway-Kyle Larson

06/26/21 Pocono Organics CBD 325-Alex Bowman

06/27/21 Explore the Pocono Mountains 350-Kyle Busch

07/04/21 Jockey Made in America 250 by Kwik Trip-

Formula One began 2020 with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:

03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen

04/18/21-Italy-Verstappen edged Hamilton

05/02/21-Portugal-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/09/21-Spain-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/23/21-Monaco-Verstappen

06/06/21-Azerbaijan-Perez

06/20/21-France-Verstappen

06/27/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/04/21-Austria-

07/18/21-Great Britain-

08/02/21-Hungary-

08/29/21-Belgium-

09/05/21-Netherlands-

09/12/21-Italy-

09/26/21-Russia-

10/03/21-Singapore-

10/10/21-Japan-

10/24/21-United States

10/31/21-Mexico-

11/07/21-Brazil-

11/21/21-Australia-

12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-

12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-

IndyCar Racing circuit (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:

04/18/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park-Alex Palou

04/25/21-St. Petersburg Street Course-Josef Newgarden

05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 1-Scott Dixon

05/02/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 2-Pato O’Ward

05/15/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1

05/30/21-Indy 500

06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 1

06/13/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 2

06/20/21-Road America

07/04/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

07/11/21-Toronto Exhibition Place

08/08/21-Nashville Street Course

08/14/21-Indianapolis GP 2

08/21/21-Gateway Motorsports Park

09/11/21-Portland International Raceway

09/19/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

09/26/21-Streets of Long Beach

Travel News:

While the US has had this unprecedented heatwave, it has also had unprecedented gun violence, road rage, and airplane rage. There have been 3200 air rage incidents reported to the FAA so far in 2021, multiple times the average for any single year (142 investigations per year). The reports of a surge in abusive or violent incidents on US flights are being linked to Pandemic-related factors. Behavior psychologists point to people emerging from pandemic lockdowns and then being forced into confined spaces on an airplane with strangers who may or may not be infected, leading to tension and outbursts. And, some of the unclear rules about how to deal with the pandemic are not helping, putting airline attendants at risk, as they interpret one set of rules versus what rules may have been set by other attendants for another airline. There have been attendants punched and losing teeth, passengers trying to open the emergency exit, other passengers being subdued by other passengers, one being duct-taped to a seat, etc. The TSA is now offering self-defense classes to airline personnel. Turning to road rage, a driver pulled out a gun on another driver along the East Loop in Houston on Tuesday. A teenager was shot and killed while leaving an Astros game last week in Houston. The father announced that the road rage from another driver did at least end with his son’s organs donated to 3 other people to save their lives. A Florida man in Alachua County was arrested after his fit of road rage ended with his and another man’s vehicle in a wreck and him beating on the other car until the driver emerged. A family of four, heading on vacation, narrowly missed being shot in their car just off the Capital Beltway on Sunday, after a man opened fire in what police called an apparent road rage attack. A woman was shot and killed in Riverdale in April, after friends said she honked at another driver to try to avoid a crash. Later in April, a woman shot a man along Massachusetts Avenue NW in DC, after a roadside crash. In May, a man driving a Maserati shot a woman who tried to get in front of him on Eastern Ave NE in DC. The violence is senseless. After a machete was pulled on a man and woman by a driver in May in Prince William’s County, police gave these tips on how to avoid road rage incidents and aggressive drivers:

  • Make every attempt to get out of their way
  • Put your pride aside and don’t challenge them
  • Ignore gestures and avoid eye contact
  • Don’t sink to their level. Remain safe
  • Be a courteous driver
  • Report serious aggressive drivers to law enforcement

Well, we are all excited to get out of pandemic quarantine and state and local restrictions (except those who are still in them), and many are flocking to amusement parks. Well, not so fast. All of a sudden, maybe because they were sitting unused for so long, some amusement parks are having accidents with rides having mechanical malfunctions. Health officials now say that bicycle helmets which have been involved in one serious accident are no longer safe and protective and must be replaced. I never heard that before.

Health News:  

As of this evening (7/13), globally, over 4 million people have died from COVID-19.  More than 188,000,000 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 33.9 million people. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 607,881. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (535,838), India (411,406), Mexico (235,277), Peru (194,606), and UK (128,748). 

Authorities in hotspots of COVID-19 in the US say that people are passing quicker than they did before. The newest COVID-19 hotspots in Singapore are in karaoke clubs. Cases have surged in Greece and the Netherlands. While UK PM is coming under increasing criticism to ease pandemic restrictions, he worries about triggering a rise in infections. 

The more contagious Delta Variant of COVID-19 is causing some new problems. There appears to be another rare problem with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. If you recall, there was a rare blood-clotting issue among a handful of people. Now, apparently, there is an issue that prompted the FDA to issue a new warning about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, of a new rare neurological reaction, Guillain-Barre syndrome, after vaccination. It was about 100 preliminary reports out of 12.8 million doses. The FDA  maintained that the vaccination still outweighs the risks. Okay, this is highly anecdotal, but six fully vaccinated people who attended an outdoor wedding in Texas got COVID-19. All of those guests were over 50. One died, who had had India’s Covaxin vaccine, while the other 5, who had Pfizer and Moderna, survived. Mississippi health officials are warning about Delta Variant ‘surge’, as 12 children are now in ICU with COVID-19. Remember, children under 12-years-old are not eligible for vaccination, yet. Ironically, the Delta Variant, which began in India, has been rapidly expanding in the US in the areas with the lowest vaccination rates. That, of course, has many people who ARE vaccinated worrying whether they are really protected or need a third Booster shot. Studies are already underway on a third dose, but experts so far agree that the vaccines are still working well, even against the Delta variant, and that booster shots are not necessary right now. However, planning ahead, Pfizer-BioNTech plans to seek authorization for a booster shot in the US in the coming weeks, citing that the possibility that protection against COVID-19 will wane 6-12 months after full immunization with the current two-shot regimen. Oy vey!  Well, the CDC and FDA quickly offered a quick rebuke to the Pfizer announcement, noting that public health officials would make the decision about booster shots, not pharmaceutical companies. Israel’s Ministry of Health said on Monday that it would begin offering a 3rd dose of the Pfizer vaccine to people with weakened immune systems. Pfizer’s announcement was reportedly based on Israel’s recent data, which shows that the vaccine remains about 93% effective at preventing serious illness and hospitalization, but is 64% effective at stopping breakthrough infections, with or without symptoms. That is down from 95% in May. So, Pfizer is thinking a booster may be optimal 6-12 months after the second shot. 

More people than ever died of drug overdoses in the US in 2020. 

Animal News:

Important news: your pets can catch COVID-19 from you and cats appear more susceptible than dogs. It turns out that Shark Week began on the Discovery+ Channel on Sunday, my birthday. I didn’t catch which state this was, but I’m assuming Florida, someone ordered an actual contract hit on a peacock on Craigslist, which was then fulfilled with the animal shot dead in a neighborhood that it inhabited or graced. Seriously?? What is wrong with people? I saw the post on Craigslist, with the guy, it’s got to be a guy, saying that the bird is extremely loud and wakes him every morning at 5-5:30am and that he would gladly pay someone to put an end to it. Police have a man in custody. I hope his prison wakeup call isn’t too early. A southern Idaho animal rescue has been seeking help, as the shelters are overcrowded. Gymnast Aly Raisman was reunited with her dog that went missing over July 4th. A housekeeper claims that Chris Brown’s dog mauled her and alleged that he euthanized it after the attack. A 12-foot Burmese python that escaped from a Louisiana zoo was found in a shopping mall. In Atlanta, a woman woke up to find a serval cat in bed, after her husband left the door open. A city in Australia has implemented a 24-hour cat curfew. In South Lake Tahoe, as CA beachgoers sought to escape the oppressive heat, an adult black bear and her 4 cubs joined the humans on the beach, swimming in the water and stealing coolers. At the request of the owner, an Oregon deputy fatally shot a 250-pound chimpanzee, after it bit owner’s daughter. 

Entertainment News:

BLACK WIDOW won this weekend’s box-office, with a total worldwide (including streaming) of $215 million. That’s the most of any movie since the pandemic began. It seems weird to be once again announcing movie numbers. I’ve been watching some good 2021 movies that went straight to streaming, instead of movie theaters. I’m not even sure the local movie theaters are still open around here. People say the movie feels like a Marvel version of a Jason Bourne movie. Britney Spears remains at the center of the news, as her sister and mother come out to support her in her Conservatorship case, just as she posts some unusual stuff on Instagram. She is speaking with former federal prosecutor to represent her in the next phase of the case, and as of this writing Wednesday night, the judge granted her that ability. It seems so silly that a 40-year-old woman can’t choose her own judge and has to have her father call all of the shots in her life, who she can date, whether she can have kids, whether she can have a cup of coffee, etc. That father also paid himself $500,000 for HIS lawyers from HER estate to fight her in court over the Conservatorship. Now, Britney wants and investigation into alleged abuse by her father.  Everyone should have the right, especially at 40, with some restrictions for certain people, to become a train wreck or not. Catt Sadler warned “don’t let your guard down” after getting sick from COVID-19 while fully vaccinated. Nicolas Cage announced that he won’t be in TIGER KING series, portraying the lead character, after all. Jason Sudeikis says he isn’t sure what happened in the breakup with Olivia Wilde. Mj Rodriguez became the first out trans woman nominated for lead actress Emmy award. Ted Lasso broke the record held by Glee for Emmy nominations, with 20. Cedric the Entertainer will be the host for the Emmy awards. There is some controversy over the new SPACE JAM movie look, which follows on the Michael Jordan original, now with LeBron James. Patricia Heaton celebrated 3 years of sobriety. The animated movie MONSTERS AT WORK has enough laughs and famous voices to get the job done. GOSSIP GIRL is giving people something to talk about, although it’s not all good. FAST AND FURIOUS 9 has added John Cena, but the franchise feels like its spinning its wheels now. FATHERHOOD will give Kevin Hart a chance to show off his serious side. Rita Moreno is shining in a new documentary, “Just A Girl Who Decided To Go For It”. I remember watching her dance and sing when I was growing up. I didn’t know where to put this raging controversy, one that I have been very vocal about, even before it appeared in the movie FATHER OF THE BRIDE, as Steve Martin’s character gets pissed off at the grocery stockboy about the discrepancy between the number of hot dog buns in a package versus the number of hot dogs in a package. He said that the two powerful industries got together to ultimately defraud the consumer. He proceeded to open up a package of buns with 12 buns and remove only 8, to match his package of 8 hot dogs. With the 4th of July barbecues and the famous Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest just behind us, I’m sure the topic came up many times. Well, now Heinz ketchup is fueling the debate, kind of tongue in cheek, by hosting a Heinz Hot Dog Pact petition, which already has 25,000 signatures!  Here is a fact that you can amaze drunk friends with at the bar: Heinz 57 varieties on their packaging does not refer to the variety of ketchup they have offered over the years, but the variety of pickles. It appears that the audience does not like Real Housewives of New York new format or continued antics, particularly in light of the pandemic, and the show has been put on hold before the Reunion show, because of bad ratings. In addition, the OG, Ramona Singer, has been fired after 13 years, according to Radar Online. She was the last original cast member. Just now, I saw that Bravo is denying that she is being fired and that Dorinda, who has been fired, leaked the false info. But, there is still rumors swirling that others will be fired and the show’s production has definitely been put on hold. I’ve watched pieces of all of the ROH series (OC, BH, NYC, Potomac, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, NJ, Idaho, etc.) and I find them to now be insipid. They become screaming matches and show these supposed friends doing lavish things and lavish vacations, that have nothing to do with the real lives of viewers. That was originally supposed to provide an escape for viewers. But, now it just seems insensitive and annoying.

Technology & Space News:

US President Biden recently warned Russian President Putin that if he didn’t do something about hackers in Russia, he would. So, read into it what you will, but suddenly some alleged perpetrators of a recent cyber-attack on the US from Russian soil had their Internet footprint ‘suddenly erased.’ Sorry to those who thought the lead story would be about Richard Branson. I thought that was more important. Okay, Virgin everything, Richard Branson, took his flight into space on Sunday, going 53 miles high, to the edge of space. It fulfilled his childhood dream. He was accompanied by 3 Virgin Galactic employees. While the journey was a landmark moment for the fledgling space tourism industry, the implications of the developments aren’t quite as rosy as Branson’s messages imply. Even with Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos own self-funded trip on 7/20 and Elon Musk’s planned launch of an all-civilian crew later this year, this space travel comes at a very hefty cost for the rest of us. First, there is the environmental footprint, which is huge. Virgin Galactic claims that the carbon footprint for its suborbital flight is comparable to that of business class on a transatlantic flight. However, per passenger means that the footprint is far more for 4 passengers versus 250 passengers or more. Jeff Bezos touted his comparably low carbon footprint for liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen engines, which don’t even emit carbon.  But, he fell into the same canal of thinking that Elon Musk did with his electric cars, not taking into account the PRODUCTION of hydrogen fuels, which depends heavily on fossil fuels. In Musk’s case, it was the production of electricity and lithium batteries, which turned out to be big footprints. So, it looks like the world’s richest people are directing their outrageous resources to an endeavor that doesn’t benefit the majority of society and may make our global warming worse, as we suffer record-breaking temperatures, wildfires, and extreme weather. 

US News:

Former President Trump has made up his mind about the 2024 Presidential election. Unfortunately, he is keeping the results to himself so far. On Wednesday, a naked California woman was extricated from a crack between two buildings. San Francisco is allegedly seeing a wave of rampant shoplifting, in the open and during the daytime, seemingly without repercussion. The apparent lawlessness is showing up on several viral videos. However, city officials are pushing back. They say that overall thefts are down 9% in the first six months of the year, compared to the same period in 2020 (well, people were restricted and businesses were in lockdown then by the pandemic). California’s Proposition 47 in 2014 lowered criminal sentences for certain non-violent crimes, like shoplifting. It set a threshold of $950, below which shoplifting would not be considered a misdemeanor. 

Bankruptcy:

A New York District judge ruled that being an “Officer” disqualifies someone from a KERP. IRA withdrawals aren’t protected from Bernie Madoff fraudulent transfer judgments. Another judge ruled that liquidating a defunct corporation qualifies for the SBRA. An amended Chapter 13 Plan allows one to cure post-petition mortgage defaults.  Here’s one that is nearly Greek to me: “Fililng Chapter 15 as a ‘Litigation Tactic’ didn’t bar ‘Foreign Main Recognition.’ And, one I saw today, that if you own a car and are filing bankruptcy and put the car payments or lease payments in the Plan, you have to remove them specifically in another category, or you will lose the car as an asset. I’m sure what I read was more understandable. 

International News:

The 4-star US General in Afghanistan for the US forces has just stepped down, after 3 years, handing over command to the next and likely last mop-up General. The US has pulled out of Afghanistan, as did Russia before them, after 20 year packing up what equipment and weapons as they could. However, they left a lot of sophisticated weapons and systems behind for the Afghan Army, particularly their Special Forces commandos. But, there are only some 10,000 commandoes. The regular Afghan Army, which is much larger, is reportedly losing or surrendering to the incoming Taliban, who were just waiting for the US to leave.  The Taliban has an agreement with the US that they will not allow any other terrorist groups, like Al Qaeda, ISIS, etc. to operate out of the country of Afghanistan. Hmmm, I’m concerned by the word ‘other’ and not sure if I trust the agreement. But what do I know? My Special Forces group is back, which is important to me. However, important to them and me, is that the US changed their Rules of Engagement and no longer give automatic citizenship to interpreters or contractors and their families who work to support our troops. They left behind interpreters who are no longer afforded automatic citizenship and have to go through months of bureaucratic red tape, as they are on the top of the Taliban’s list for execution, after their families.  It’s unconscionable, and makes me angry! And, as you can all attest, I’ve never been angry. I just bought a case of tennis balls for Afghan interpreters to play cricket with our troops, because their tennis balls were like 20 years old, had no fuzz and didn’t bounce. These are surely our invaluable allies.  Shame on the US government and the Pentagon for not insisting that these people and their families are protected, after years of service to our soldiers! I’m guessing that by the time you read this, they will all be dead, after their families were tortured and killed. The Cuban government has shut down the Internet there, in response to increased violent protest against the Communist government there. People are angry about poor services, inadequate food supplies and water, and lack of COVID-19 vaccines. Large sympathy protests are being held in Miami by Cuban-Americans. China is now fixating on the Florida condo collapse at Surfside, as disaster have begun unfolding in China. There seems to be a lot of unrest in the world. In South Africa, protests over the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma has resulted in 72 deaths and 1200 arrests. The Supreme Court of Nepal designated Sher Bahadur Deuba as Prime Minister. The Party of Action and Solidarity won a majority of seats in the Moldovan parliamentary election. 

Florida:

The awful news here and ongoing tragedy is the June 24th collapse of a 12-story beachfront condominium tower, Champagne, in Surfside, Florida, a town near Miami. The recovery efforts are winding down at Champlain Towers South. At least 95 people are confirmed dead (85 of whom have been identified), 11 others injured and 14 people are still missing in the rubble. On Monday, a different kind of news regarding the incident put a new pallor on it. It turns out that a commissioner who has been deeply involved with the rescuers and consoling the families has been discovered to be infected with COVID-19. He has had the illness for at least 5 days before the announcement and can be seen hugging first responders and family members alike. A new issue is challenging first responders at Surfside, who are now recovering victims’ property, such as jewelry, cash, art, children’s toys, and firearms. Authorities are not yet sure how to return those objects to their rightful owners and what the legal implications will be. They are using a meticulous process to sort and catalog the items and store them respectfully. More than 18 million pounds of concrete and debris have been removed by 892 trucks since the collapse. COVID-19 cases have nearly doubled in recent weeks in South Florida. 

Jokes and Such:

Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J

83. Why does a chicken coop only have two doors?

Because if it had four doors, it would be a chicken sedan.

84. A sandwich walks into a bar.

The bartender says, “Sorry, we don’t serve food here.”

85. I got a new job last week as the new top dog at Old MacDonald’s farm.

I’m the new C-I-E-I-O.

86. The sky was looking ominous so I asked Siri, “Surely, it’s not going to rain today?”

And she replied, “Yes it is, and don’t call me Shirley.”

That was when I realized I’d left my phone on Airplane mode.

87. Why did the giraffe get such bad grades?

He always had his head stuck in the clouds.

88. Why are frogs always so happy?

They eat whatever bugs them.

89. Whenever you jump on a trampoline, did you know it changes the season?

No matter what time of year, it always becomes spring time.

90. Why didn’t the skeleton go to the dance?

Because he had no body to go with.

91. What do you call a musician with problems?

A trebled man.

92.Where do snowmen keep their savings?

In the snowbank.

93. What do you call a religious person who sleepwalks?

A roamin’ Catholic.

94. Did you hear about the carrot detective?

He always got to the root of every case.

95. What washes up on very small beaches?

Micro-waves

96. What did one elevator say to the other?

I think I’m coming down with something.

97. What happened when a faucet, a tomato, and some lettuce ran a race together?

The lettuce was ahead, the faucet was running, and the tomato was trying to ketchup.

98. What do you call a belt with a watch on it?

A waist of time.

99. Why did the tomato turn red?

It saw the salad dressing.

100. What did the grape do when it got stepped on?

It let out a little wine.

101. Why won’t skeletons fight each other?

They just don’t have the guts.

I promise that they will continue to be corny or cornier, unless you give me some good clean jokes for adults…

Repo Commentary-07/02/21

I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/e education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo

I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. 

  • I have completed the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals. Our new normal of e-Learning.
  • I am periodically consulting with 2 large firms about repo issues and business plans.  
  • I am sharing my opinion and expertise with the industry in articles in various periodicals. 
  • I am consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo.\
  • I just consulted with a research team on electronic platforms for Repo. 
  • I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums.
  • I was the panel moderator for a panel on trends in Financial Technology, pre- and post-Pandemic, for a virtual conference held by Securities Finance Times on 5/6. Honored to be working with thought leaders from MarketAccess, GLMX, and Broadridge. 
  • I was interviewed by my former colleague, one time COO of Cantor Fitzgerald, Ari Schonbrun, for his wildly popular (top 5% in the world) Apple podcast “Whispers and Bricks”. Here it is at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jeff-kidwell-repo-expert-and-movie-buff/id1553840938?i=1000515889833

Kidwell Consultants, LLC is available FOR HIRE as a consultant. I’m actually not that busy (for me) at the moment.  So, if you need my Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeff@kidwellconsultants.com) or (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested  in entertaining (70-80%) you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. You have more than enough stress already!  Feel free, as always, to send me information, comments or pictures, to make it better! 

Holidays or Events (07/01):

  • American Zoo Day
  • Blink-182 Day
  • Canada Day/Dominion Day
  • Devotion to Duty Day
  • Early Bird Day
  • International Chicken Wing Day
  • International Joke Day (don’t forget that there are jokes now at the end of the Commentary)
  • International Reggae Day
  • National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day
  • National Financial Freedom Day
  • National Gingersnap Day
  • National Postal Workers Day
  • Zip Code Day
  • US Postage Stamp Day
  • National Television Heritage Day
  • Second Half of the New Year Day
  • Armed Forces Day in Singapore
  • Children’s Day in Pakistan
  • Communist Party of China Founding Day
  • Day of Officials and Civil Servants in Hungary
  • Doctors’ Day in India
  • Emancipation Day in Netherlands Antilles
  • Engineer’s Day in Bahrain and Mexico
  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day in Hong Kong and China
  • Independence Day in Burundi (from Belgium)
  • Independence Day in Rwanda
  • Independence Day in Somalia
  • International Tartan Day
  • July Morning in Bulgaria
  • Keti Koti (Emancipation Day) in Suriname
  • Madeira Day in Madeira, Portugal
  • Moving Day (Quebec) in Canada
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Memorial Day
  • Republic Day in Ghana
  • Sir Seretse Khama Day in Botswana
  • Territory Day in British Virgin Islands
  • The first day of Van Mahotsav, celebrated until 7/7 in India

This weekend marks the 4th of July holiday in the United States of America, which is a celebration of Independence Day. US markets will be closed.

Some Famous People Born on (07/01):

  • 1534-Frederick II of Denmark
  • 1807-Thomas Green Clemson, American politician and educator, founded Clemson University
  • 1899-Thomas A. Dorsey, American pianist and composer
  • 1899-Charles Laughton, English-American actor and director
  • 1906-Estee Lauder, American businesswoman, co-founder of Estee Lauder Companies
  • 1912-David Brower, American environmentalist, founded Sierra Club Foundation
  • 1915-Willie Dixon, American blues singer-songwriter, bass player, guitarist and producer
  • 1916-Olivia de Havilland, British-American actress
  • 1931-Leslie Caron, French actress and dancer
  • 1934-Jamie Farr, American actor
  • 1936-Wally Amos, American entrepreneur and founder of Famous Amos
  • 1939-Karen Black, American actress
  • 1941-Rod Gilbert, Canadian-American hockey player
  • 1941-Myron Scholes, Canadian-American economist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate, co-author Black-Scholes Principle
  • 1941-Twyla Tharp, American dancer and choreographer
  • 1942-Genevieve Bujold, Canadian actress
  • 1945-Debbie Harry, American singer-songwriter (Blondie) and actress
  • 1951-Terrence Mann, American actor, singer and dancer
  • 1952-Dan Aykroyd, Canadian actor, producer and screenwriter
  • 1960-Evelyn “Champagne” King, American soul/disco singer
  • 1961-Carl Lewis, American long jumper and runner
  • 1961-Diana, Princess of Wales
  • 1967-Pamela Anderson, Canadian-American model and actress
  • 1971-Missy Elliott, American rapper, producer, dancer and actress

It’s Tom Sapio’s (and my) birthday month. My former partner and I share the 11thof the month, four years apart.

Daily Weird Facts:

Actor Liam Neeson was an amateur boxing champion, a forklift driver for Guinness and dropped out of a degree in Computer Science, all before the age of 25. 

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”—Nelson Mandela 

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18 

$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18

$48.63 on 01/07/19 

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27 

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21

$66.34/barrel on 03/05

$61.30/barrel on 04/01

$63.68/barrel on 05/13

$72.25/barrel on 06/15

$74.86/barrel on 07/02

The price of Oil continues to march higher. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station moved 10 cents higher in the past 2 weeks, at $2.98/gallon. However, gasoline prices have been rising faster in surrounding areas and in the country. Exxon Mobil has found itself in the crosshairs of activist investors seeking climate accountability. A lobbyist and Greenpeace have put the company in the news and Big Oil’s central role in accelerating global warming. 

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:

104.80 on 02/07/20

99.23 on 03/11/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

110.63 on 04/01/21

108.61 on 04/28/21

109.47 on 05/13/21

110.05 on 06/15/21

111.44 on 07/02/21

One Euro was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.1426 

12/06/19 at $1.1688

03/11/20 at $1.1937

05/04 at $1.0903

12/16/20 at $1.2196

02/04 at $1.2625

04/01 at $1.1774

04/28 at $1.2123

05/13 at $1.2077

06/15 at $1.2127

07/02 at $1.1822

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.2655 

12/06/19 at $1.3819

02/07/20 at $1.3574

03/24 at $1.2231

12/16/20 at $1.3494

02/16 at $1.3903

04/01 at $1.3832

04/28 at $1.3942

05/13 at $1.4045

06/15 at $1.4083

07/02 at $1.3743

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24/18

1.2530 on 12/06/19

1.2390 on 01/17/20

1.3540 on 03/18

1.2752 on 12/16/20

1.2548 on 04/01

1.2315 on 04/28

1.2160 on 05/13

1.2186 on 06/15

1.2417 on 07/02

With data showing reemerging inflation and the Fed’s concern about inflation, precious metals, a historic hedge against inflation may become a popular topic again soon. Interestingly, the number of people in the US invested in Gold and Silver is far less than those invested in Equities.  In fact, while about 50% of Americans invest, only 10.8% of the population owns Gold and only about 11.6% of the country owns Silver. Gold prices:

10/02/19 $1498.70/ounce 

03/11/20 $1,641/ounce

07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce

11/30/20 $1,774.00 

01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00

03/05/21 $1,698.70

04/01/21 $1,730.00

04/28/21 $1,782.20

05/13/21 $1,826.20

06/15/21 $1,859.90

07/02/21 $1,789.00

Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25/18 

$6,350 on 10/5/18

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,774.97 on 01/07/19 

$3,598.90 on 01/16 

$3,421.10 on 02/06 

$3,826.44 on 02/26

$8,100.00 on 05/16

$7,215.79 on 05/17

$9,088.59 on 06/18

$11,919.30 on 06/25

$9,790.37 on 07/24

$10,183.90 on 09/10

$8,235.46 on 10/02

$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

$7,871.60 on 03/11/20

$5,216.64 on 03/18/20

$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20

$10,849.00 on 07/27/20

$15,160.90 on 11/10/20

$19,411.50 on 11/30/20

$20,665.10 on 12/16/20

$31,592.20 on 01/04/21

$36,433.00 on 01/13/21

$36,607.50 on 02/04/21

$48,526.90 on 02/16/21

$58,093.71 on 02/21/21

$43,170.01 on 02/28/21

$49,207.43 on 03/05/21

$58,979.60 on 04/01/21

$54,886.50 on 04/28/21

$54,242.00 on 05/12/21

$39,804.90 on 06/15/21

$33,039.30 on 07/02/21

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  On 3/13/20, it had cratered at $3,867.  On 4/15/21, it hit a high of $63,237.  It has since made more than a 30% correction. I am not hearing as much grief from all the 20 and 30-year-olds down here. 

Cryptocurrency advocates and critics have broadly welcomed the Basel Committee’s stated intention to subject digital currencies to more stringent oversight than other assets, per FT. UK financial regulator has barred Crypto Exchange Binance Markets and ordered them to cease operations. 

Brexit:

Another deadline has just passed, June 30, 2021, when most EU citizens had to apply to live permanently in the UK as settled residents. Over 6 million EU citizens have applied to settle in post-Brexit UK.  Post-Brexit talks on London access to EU have stalled. Brexit and COVID-19 have caused a huge jump in pay for lorry (truck) drivers. A lorry driver shortage is threatening the German confectionery giant Haribo, in getting their supplies of Goldbears and Tangfastics to UK shops. The EU has postponed ban on British meat sales in Northern Ireland. The import protection for the UK steel industry was set to expire, but the UK made a last-ditch extension. New UK law, the Subsidy Control Bill, will replace EU-wide rules on government assistance to firms. The mobile phone operator EE is reintroducing Europe roaming charges for new UK customers to use their phones in Europe. Many think that the new Northern Ireland Protocol has broken the union of the United Kingdom. 

Global Financial News:

UBS has announced that it will allow some two-thirds of employees to adopt a permanent hybrid week, developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Luxembourg fund management trade association, ALFI, re-elected Corinne Lamesch as its chairperson for another 2 years. ESMA has registered the first 2 Securities Repositories under the European Securitisation Regulations. Bank of England confirmed that it took supervisory action against Euroclear UK and Ireland, following a settlement outage. German banks have reportedly completed an OTC interest rate derivatives trade using the digital smart contract.  Sinara Group has extended its international coverage through a Cyprus-registered holding company, which plans then on acquiring brokerage firms in the EU and the UK to expand its services to Russian and International clients. MJ Hudson, a buyside consultant firm, has bought Clarus Risk, a regtech company, to assist with private asset risk and automated regulatory reporting. BNP Paribas has signed a 10-year agreement with FIS Cleared Derivatives suite. It was a blockbuster IPO day, which produced huge gains for Uber, Delta Air Lines, and tech venture capital firms. Hex Trust has secured an investment from Cyberport, a fintech hub in Hong Kong, which is wholly owned by the Hong Kong SAR Government. Northern Trust has launched a machine learning-powered document capture capability as the foundation of a multi-year investment to digitize alternative asset servicing. The world took a big step toward sweeping changes to global taxation, according to Bloomberg, as 130 countries and jurisdictions endorsed setting a minimum tax rate for corporations, along with rules to share the tax revenue from multinational corporations like Facebook and Google. However, Wall Street corporations may receive exemptions. 

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. The specter of inflation and potential for future Fed tightening spooked the stock market, after the FOMC meeting announcement on 6/16/21. However, the resilient stock market recovered and continued its rally.  

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates):

07/01/21  34,633.53 

05/12/21  33,587.66

03/31/21  32,981.55

01/13/21   31,060.47

12/31/20   30,606.48

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/22/20   27,005.84

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/08/20   27,572.44

6/03/20     26,269.89

5/27/20     25,548.27

4/17/20     24,242.49

3/23/20    18,591.93

3/03/20     25,917.41

2/12/20     29,551.42 record high

S&P 500 has closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2,885.58 

12/26/18 at 2,467.70 

12/06/19 at 3,145.91

02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 2,237.40

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/13/21 at 3,809.84

02/03/21 at 3,830.17

02/16/21 at 3,923.59

03/05/21 at 3,841.94

03/31/21 at 3,972.89

05/12/21 at 4,063.04

07/01/21 at 4,319.94

S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record on 12/8 of 3,702.25, then backed off, then shot higher again to a new record 02/16.  It has continued to be up at new record highs. 

Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

12/06/19 at 8,656.07

02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high 

03/23/20 at 6,860.67

06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/13/21 at 13,128.95 

02/03/21 at 13,610.54

02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high

03/05/21 at 12,920.15

03/31/21 at 13,246.87

05/12/21 at 13,031.68

07/01/21 at 14,522.38

The US Treasury market had seen yields rise slightly ahead of the 06/16/21 FOMC meeting. Then, the announcement caused a massive shift in the entire curve, with the front-end yields dramatically rising (2years and 3years), and the back-end yields dramatically falling (7years, 10years, and 30years). 

2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

02/06/20 at 1.44%

03/11/20 at 0.50%

03/17/20 at 0.47%

03/23/20 at 0.28% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.16% historic low

07/24/20 at 0.14% new historic low

12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/13/21 at 0.14%

02/03/21 at 0.11%

02/16/21 at 0.11%

03/05/21 at 0.14%

03/31/21 at 0.16%

05/12/21 at 0.16%

07/01/21 at 0.25% wow!

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

12/06/19 at 1.64%

02/06/20 at 1.43%

03/11/20 at 0.58%

03/17/20 at 0.54%

03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.21%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!

01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!

01/13/21 at 0.22%

02/03/21 at 0.17%

02/16/21 at 0.17%

03/05/21 at 0.32%

03/31/21 at 0.35%

05/12/21 at 0.35%

07/01/21 at 0.47% wow!

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

02/07/20 at 1.45%

03/11/20 at 0.66%

03/17/20 at 0.56%

03/23/20 at 0.38% 

03/26/20 at 0.51%

03/31/20 at 0.37%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/13/21 at 0.48%

02/03/21 at 0.46%

02/16/21 at 0.42%

03/05/21 at 0.79%

03/31/21 at 0.92%

05/12/21 at 0.87%

07/01/21 at 0.89% not much increase

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

02/06/20 at 1.56%

03/11/20 at 0.78%

03/17/20 at 0.91%

03/23/20 at 0.63% 

03/26/20 at 0.72%

03/31/20 at 0.55%

07/24/20 at 0.44%

11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/13/21 at 0.80%

02/03/21 at 0.81%

02/16/21 at 0.76%

03/05/21 at 1.23%

03/31/21 at 1.40%

05/12/21 at 1.34%

07/01/21 at 1.24% wow, what a drop

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!

02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!

03/11/20 at 0.82%

03/17/20 at 1.02% and back up again

03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again

07/24/20 at 0.59%

11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/13/21 at 1.10%

02/03/21 at 1.15%

02/16/21 at 1.09%

03/05/21 at 1.56%

03/31/21 at 1.74%

05/12/21 at 1.69%

07/01/21 at 1.48% dramatic drop

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

02/06/20 at 2.11%

03/11/20 at 1.30%

03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!

03/23/20 at 1.33% back down

07/24/20 at 1.23%

11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/13/21 at 1.82%

02/03/21 at 1.92%

02/16/21 at 1.84%

03/05/21 at 2.28%

03/31/21 at 2.41%

05/12/21 at 2.40%

07/01/21 at 2.07% dramatic drop almost below magic 2%

Housing News:

There 

Repo/Securities Financing News:                              

At the 6/16 FOMC meeting announcement, the Fed could have increased the rate on the RRP to 0.05%, which might have forced GC repo rates higher to compete with the Fed paying cash providers 5bp more. However, it wouldn’t have solved the present dislocation that there isn’t enough collateral for the cash in the market and the RRP is a disintermediation of the broker/dealers with their own typical cash providers. Yet, the Fed chose to raise the RRP by 5bp. The second possible solution, to taper QE, was probably the logical choice, but would be the least friendly to other markets and perhaps to the public. However, the Fed, while not beginning the taper, decided to hint at it coming. This could solve the collateral shortage problem. The third possible solution, was to adjust the Interest On Excess Reserves (IOER) rate higher, which would in turn raise the average Fed Funds rate, which would in turn raise the GC Repo rate, since all three products compete with each other for that elusive cash. The Fed also chose to raise the IOER rate by 5bp. Some market analysts actually mentioned this as a major influence on the subsequent fall in the equity market, saying that cash left the equity market to take advantage of IOER. Really? I doubt that had much of a factor at all. I think the move out of Equities was due to several other reasons, including the rising competitive yield in US Treasuries and other Fixed Income products, the warning of future Fed tightenings in the Fed statement, and the specters of inflation and nagging unemployment discussed by the Fed in its statement. So, these are monetary policy concerns and economic fundamentals concerns, which made the equity market jittery, not the IOER tweak. 

Tom Daniels has left his post of Head of Securities Lending business development for BNY Mellon, after 14 years. CloudMargin is collaborating with Ivno now. LCH has opened up buyside clearing access on RepoClear. Insight Investment became the first fund manager to transact cleared repo on behalf of a UK defined benefit pension fund. DataLend (part of EquiLend) says global securities lending revenue is up 17% in the first half of 2021. There have been a lot of hot stocks and movement into emerging markets. ICMA has a new chief executive, as Bryan Pascoe takes over for Martin Scheck. South Korea lifted their short-selling ban in May, leading to over $130 million being traded through Tru Technologies’ securities finance platform there. ISLA is meeting its objective to deliver a minimum viable securities lending common domain model for market participants by mid-2021. The European Commission has issued an Interim Report on CSDR and is considering a REFIT legislative review of CSDR. Sharegain has released a new platform for real-time borrowing of securities electronically. Deutsche Borse is extending digital asset offering with its acquisition of Crypto Finance. The UAE-based equity clearing house, Dubai Clear, has become a member of CCP12. 

Securities Finance Industry Conferences

This section is a work in progress. I am searching new sources of virtual conferences, networking, and symposiums, rather than just continuing to run the 25-30 annual physical conferences for the industry, many of which are no longer being held, because of the pandemic.  

  • ICMA Fintech Week London:  7/12/21-7/16/21, Virtual.
  • 25th IMN/AFME Global ABS 2021:  9/27/21-9/28/21, London.
  • ICMA/ERCC Professional Repo Market and Collateral Management Workshop 2021:  9/27/21-10/5/21, Virtual.
  • 38th Annual RMA Securities Finance & Collateral Management Conference:  10/11/21-10/14/21, TBA if virtual or on location.
  • FundForum Internnational/Clearstream: 10/20/21-10/22/21, Monaco.
  • 2021 RMA Annual Risk Management Conference:  10/25/21-10/28/21, TBA.
  • Finadium Rates & Repo 2021:  November 10, 2021, TBA if Virtual or on location in NYC.
  • 27th IMN ABS East 2021:  12/13/21-12/15/21, Miami Beach, FL.

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. 

The next FOMC meetings are: 06/16/21, 07/28/21, 09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in.  

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.

The FOMC 2-day meeting ended 6/16. Lately, FOMC meetings have been followed by policy statements that are carefully positive, with a nod to the slow reemergence of the economy from the pandemic.  However, many economists thought THIS meeting could be very different. Monetary policy is still in full Ease mode, with the Fed Funds target at 0.00%-0.25%, although Repo rates are near 0.00%, and QE is still huge with $120 billion of buying per month. Well those economists were correct. The Fed did want to send a different signal in their policy statement. With inflation figures rising, the Fed is speaking about caution, eventual tapering of QE and eventual raising of Fed Funds target rate. Not only did they hit on both subjects, which was a little unexpected, but they also were a lot more specific than expected about the timing of possible braking. Now, the Fed did create some flexibility to keep monetary stimulus in place for longer. But, they did say that they see a possible Fed Funds rate hike in 2022 and two hikes by the end of 2023. They also indicated that they were inching towards tapering. 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. Much quieter than it has been previously:

07/01 4.5 57km SSW of Kotabumi, Indonesia

07/01 4.9 242km ESE of Tadine, New Caledonia

07/01 5.2 South Indian Ocean

07/01 4.5 11km SW of Piedecuesta, Colombia

07/01 4.5 84km SSW of Kuril’sk, Russia

06/30 4.5 27km S of Kotabumi, Indonesia

06/30 4.7 78km W of Bandar Lampung, Indonesia

06/30 5.1 6 km E of San Juan Cabeza del Rio, Mexico

There is a massive evacuation underway in the Philippines, as the government raised the danger level for the Taal volcano. A volcano erupted in Costa Rica two days ago. Scientists have found that invisible bursts of electricity from volcanoes signal explosive eruptions. Did you know that there are currently 43 volcanoes with continuing eruptions active in the world right now? I guess I can understand this piece of news, but then again, I’m not sure whether it’s worth the risk. Researchers say that the brine released by the magma beneath volcanoes is a potential “liquid ore” containing metals such as gold, copper, and lithium. Some of those precious metals have seen their value increase around the world, as companies pursue the materials needed to produce batteries. However, extracting that liquid ore may prove to be very difficult and dangerous. I get the concept, that it may be easier to allow the Earth to disgorge the precious metals to companies, rather than have the companies go through the laborious process of digging or mining for them. 

Weather:

The nation is seeing record high temperatures, as a major heatwave has blanketed the nation, particularly in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, and Northeast. In particular, the Pacific Northwest saw rare temperatures up to 117 in places! Over 70 locations in the Pacific Northwest and western Canada have already tied or set new all-time heat records. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic were blanketed with 90s, while Florida is about 92 and daily threat of rain. The Midwest has been hammered with rain and flooding. The Governor of Michigan declared a State of Emergency for the Detroit area. Over 60 million people were under heat advisories or heat watches. Canada has also had the unprecedented heatwave and dozens have died. In British Columbia alone, the climate change-fueled heat wave may be the cause of 486 sudden fatalities this week, far above the average 165 fatalities normally occurring in this period. A wildfire engulfed a village in Canada, just as it set a heat record. St. Louis hit a record 115. 

Let’s go back to the subject of ‘rain’. This has been gnawing at me for a while, especially since Florida has already begun its August pattern of early in the day 90s and oppressive humidity, followed by afternoon thunderstorms. I wanted to focus on the “Chance of Rain” enigma. I think most of my life I thought when a meteorologist (or a “weather presenter” like Al Roker) says, “the Chance of Rain is 30% today, but increases to 40% tomorrow,” that they were saying There is a 30% chance of you seeing rain here in West Palm Beach and tomorrow those odds increase (so you better golf today!). it turns out that that simple phrase is far from simple and has different interpretations. TikTok recently circulated a video that claimed a 30% chance of rain meant that there would only be rain in 30% of the viewing area. How are you supposed to know how far a viewing area extends for a local TV station, the radio, or a cellphone app? It turns out that the TikTok video is incorrect. However, NOAA’s Weather Program Office said that Probability of Precipitation (PoP) is very difficult to explain. This stems from the fact that in their study, they found that there are 5 different commonly used definitions for PoP among meteorologists themselves. Here they are:

  • The TikTok version, that PoP=C x A, where C is the confidence that it’ll rain somewhere in the forecast area and A means the percentage of that area that will receive a measurable amount of rain. So, a 50% chance of rain in 80% of the area would be 40% PoP.
  • NOAA says PoP measures the likelihood that you’ll see rain at any given point within the forecast area within a 12-hour time period. This is the more commonly accepted definition.
  • The National Weather Service says “it’s the chance of precipitation, which we define as 100th of an inch of rain falling at a particular point over a certain period of time.”
  • Others believe that a 30% chance of rain refers to the proportion of a given area that with 100% assurance will receive rain.
  • Still others believe that PoP actually means that you’ll be seeing rain for 30% of the time in a given forecast area over a certain period. 

The two most accepted definitions are the NOAA and NWS ones. This whole problem stems from meteorologists and apps not giving us a “reference class” when giving us a percentage. A point of comparison would anchor the intended meaning of the forecast.  

The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGAN June 1st and ends November 30th.  According to CNN, one thing about 2020 that people didn’t notice during the pandemic is that hurricane forecasts improved. Focus is now on size and speed of the approaching storm and the critical “cone of uncertainty”, which affects a certain population. 2021 is expected by the NOAA to be an Active hurricane season. They expect a likely range of 13-20 named storms (winds of 39mph or higher). They expect 6-10 of them to be Hurricanes, and of that 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger. There are currently no tropical cyclones in the Atlantic at this time. However we have already reached D on the list. Florida is now keeping an eye on two disturbances that are brewing in the Atlantic. If they become Tropical Storms, they would be named Elsa and Fred. As I wrote that, they upgraded the first one to Tropical Storm Elsa and this morning it was upgraded to a Category 1 Hurricane. It is moving very quickly towards the Caribbean and Florida. It is expected to impact Florida by Monday night or early Tuesday morning. 

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. In the Eastern North Pacific, Tropical Storm Enrique has become poorly-organized. There are currently no tropical cyclones in the Central North Pacific. 

Sports News:       

MLB:

In the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series. 

For 2021, MLB started with limited seating at ballparks, but it depended on the ballpark location. Many locations have been opening up to more fans. Boston has gone to full capacity, especially for the induction of former 2B Dustin Pedroia into the Red Sox Hall of Fame and retirement of his number 15.  There have been early surprises in 2021, like the Red Sox and the White Sox. The trade deadline isn’t until 7/30/21, but rumors are already flying. Meanwhile, All-Star Game voting is heating up and ends Thursday (today). The Blue Jays have acquired Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson from the Marlins. MLB is now cracking down on pitchers using foreign substances on the baseball, something they have been doing for decades but weren’t really policed. Now, opposing managers can accuse a pitcher, without any retribution for a false accusation (which is not right!), and guilty pitchers receive a mandatory 10-game suspension and undisclosed fine. MLB just suspended Mariners’ veteran Hector Santiago for the infraction. Another negative from the new harsh policy is that the Mariners will not be able to replace Santiago on the roster during his suspension. So, it increases the workload on the team’s other starting pitchers. Astros don’t expect Bregman back for at least a month. White Sox and Diamondbacks are getting closer on a trade for Eduardo Escobar. Mike Soroka will undergo season-ending Achilles surgery. Aaron Civale is expected to miss 4-5 weeks with a finger sprain. Blue Jays have activated George Springer. Mets’ Joey Lucchesi will undergo Tommy John surgery, ending his season. The heatwave is taking its toll on Canadians and Americans across both countries. But, it also led to heat exhaustion for an Angels pitcher on the Yankee Stadium mound, who had to be removed from the game. 

Current standings (06/29), after about 75-79 games:

AL EAST is still kind of a 4-team race, but Boston and Tampa Bay have been pulling ahead of the others. Boston has now beaten the Yankees 6 times in a row, which hasn’t happened since 2009, and before that, 1912. Baltimore is already 23 games out of first place, having lost 8 of their last 10.

Tampa Bay

Boston

Toronto

NY Yankees

Baltimore

AL CENTRAL this was starting to look like the runaway division for the White Sox, but the Indians have righted the ship and closed the gap with the Sox. The Sox losing 7 of their last 10 has helped the Indians. The bottom 3 teams are all 12 or 12 ½ games out of first place.

Chicago WS

Cleveland

Minnesota

Detroit

Kansas City

AL WEST the A’s have been a surprise, but the Astros have finally overtaken them, winning 7 of their last 10.  

Houston

Oakland

Seattle
LA Angels

Texas

NL EAST this division continues to underperform, which leaves almost every team still in the running.  The Mets now have a 3 game lead over the Nats, who have won 7 of their last 10, as the Phillies lost 7 of their last 10.

NY Mets

Washington

Atlanta

Philadelphia

Miami

NL CENTRAL The Brewers just won 8 out of 10 and the Cubs lost 7 of their last 10, to widen the gap. The Cards have also lost 7 of their last 10, leapfrogging them down to 4th.  

Milwaukee

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati

St. Louis

Pittsburgh

NL WEST the World Champion Dodgers looked like they would run away with the division, but the Giants said ‘hold my beer’. You can’t count the Padres out either. This high-flying division has put the Diamondbacks in the rearview mirror, behind first place by 29 games. 

San Francisco

LA Dodgers

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

Golf:

The PGA Tour 2021 season rolls on. Next up, the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which will be held at the Detroit GC (hopefully the flooding will be done there). It will be an all-star packed field with DeChambeau, Mickelson, Matsuyama, Reed, Fowler, Day. Watson, Wolff, etc. It will be hard for this tournament to beat the excitement of the Travelers Championship at TPC River Highlands in Connecticut this past Sunday. A familiar name, Bubba Watson, was cruising along to a victory, when the wheels fell off in the last 5 holes and he went 5 over. Meanwhile, the 139th golfer in the world, Kramer Hickok, who had yet to win a PGA Tour event, and little known Harris English, who was seeking his 4th PGA Tour event victory (2nd this year), deadlocked on the 18th hole and went to an 8-hole playoff, making putt after putt on the 17th and 18th holes. I think they wound up playing the 18th about 10 times on the weekend. English dropped a putt on the 8th playoff hole, the 18th again, and won the amazing tournament and about $1.4 million. It tied the 2nd longest tournament in PGA history. The longest had 11 playoff holes. They have to change that playoff format though! I know it’s easier for the fans to move between the 17thand 18th, but it gets boring for the viewers and the golfers. On the PGA Tour Champions’ Dick’s Sporting Goods Open, Dick Mast, 70, shot a 65 on Tuesday, 5 shots lower than his age. On the European Tour, Rory McIlroy has returned home to Mount Juliet Estate, the host venue for this week’s Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. Meanwhile, the LPGA plays the Volunteers of America Classic at Old American GC in Colony, TX.  

NFL:

The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV, which was played in Tampa Bay, with the Bucs acting as home team. Despite the odds against it and his age against him, QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl over the Chiefs, 31-9. Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, as he won his 7th Super Bowl, more than any franchise, let alone any player, in 10 trips to the Super Bowl. 

Guess who is an available free agent again? Yup, Le’Veon Bell. He is the perennial free agent, except that year that he refused to play and lost about $875,000 in pay per game that season. He may wind up on the Saints. But, there are other notables this year still looking for an NFL team. DE Melvin Ingram from the Chargers. Superstar CB Richard Sherman from the Seahawks and then the 49ers. He could be a Cowboy. RB Todd Gurley, a fixture of the Rams and then released by the Falcons. He could be a Charger. WR Golden Tate of the Lions and then the Eagles and Giants. He could wind up being a Patriot. However, the Patriots have already grabbed 2 new TE and 2 new WR in the offseason free agency market. Broncos’ TE Demaryius Thomas has retired. The NFL just levied today a $10 million on the Washington Football Team, after a one year investigation into a culture in the organization that caused bullying and harassment over the last 15 years on team employees. The team owner will step aside for now and his wife will take over the reins. 

Soccer

The European Championship is happening in FIFA EURO 2020 right now, as I type this Repo Commentary. France was the team to beat, and Switzerland surprisingly did just that in a penalty shootout, shockingly knocking France out of the round-of-16 with a tie, after trailing early 3-1. So, the Euro 2016 finalists and reigning world champions are out. England beat Germany. Matheus has been released by Barcelona after playing just 17 minutes. De Boer has stepped down as Netherlands head coach. The UEFA Europa League is also being played. 

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing. We have begun the next major, Wimbledon. And, American legend Serena Williams retired in tears from Wimbledon in her first round match! She was hoping to win her 8th Wimbledon Singles title and tie Margaret Court’s Grand Slam Singles record of 24. The 39-year-old was leading when she slipped and had to have her left ankle examined. Her odds were good, coming into the tournament, as 2019 champion Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka had withdrawn prior to the tournament. Williams had already passed on the Olympics, to focus on the US Open in September. Other players have complained about Centre Court being very slippery, including England’s Andy Murray. Williams has not won a Slam event since 2017. 

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion, undefeated Gonzaga.

Olympics:

The 2021 Tokyo Summer Games are still officially on, although some athletes have refused to participate because of the pandemic. In the US, Team USA held their women’s gymnastics nationals and determined their best 8 women, led by Simone Biles. US Olympian hammer thrower, Gwen Berry, who came in 3rd, protested during the National Anthem, turning her back away from the American flag and then covering her head with a logoed t-shirt.  She has caused quite a public uproar, with many people calling for her to be removed from the US Olympic team. President Biden even felt it necessary to weight in and defended her right to protest under the very same flag.  In all, 543 athletes have so far qualified for the US Olympic team, on its way to having nearly 600 athletes by the 7/23 Opening Ceremony. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tokyo will not be allowing friends or family or fans to attend the Olympics. 

NHL:

The puck dropped on the asterisk season (last season) on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude the same season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans.

The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but was only 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic. 

This is this season’s odd configuration. There have been a lot of exciting playoff games and the Stanley Cup Finals began on Monday, with the favorite Lightning facing this year’s Cinderella team, the Canadiens. While not expected to do well this year, to be fair, the Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups, far more than any other team. The Lightning one Game 1 on Monday night and then Game 2 on Wednesday night.  Both teams had shown incredible passing, speed and shot-making. The Canadiens have far outshot the Lightning, but the difference maker has been the Lightning’s goalie.  The Canadiens will have coach Dominique Ducharme back for Game 3 tonight, as he comes off of 14-day quarantine for COVID-19. He missed the last 4 games of the previous series against the Golden Knights and the first 2 games of this series with the Lightning.  Negent-Hopkins just signed and 8-year/$41 million contract extension with the Oilers. The Predators made a trade with the Kings, sending Vikto Arvidsson to the Kings for two NHL Draft picks, one in the 2021 Draft and one in the 2022 Draft. The Coyotes hired Andre Tourigny as coach on Thursday, replaced Rick Tocchet, after the Coyotes failed to qualify to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

NBA:

Last year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs, when the pandemic shut the regular season down, with just a little over a month left. Late 6/4/20, the NBA reportedly approved a 22-team format to restart the season in the Summer. All games were played at the three venues at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl, starting 7/31. The modified playoff format for this asterisk season began on 10/12. In the end, the Miami Heat lost the Championship to the LA Lakers. 

The NBA season tipped off again on 12/22/20. We are now nearing the end of the Playoffs. Baseball HOF Reggie Jackson says he is happy how well Reggie Jackson is playing for the Clippers in the NBA Playoffs. Paul George of the Clippers says he has been criticized too much in his NBA Playoff career. He managed to keep the Clippers alive in Game 5 on Monday. We are in the Conference Finals now, with the final 4 teams.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

No.5 Atlanta Hawks trail the No.3 Milwaukee Bucks 2-1. Atlanta had shockingly upset the No.1 76ers, and Milwaukee had dispatched No.2 Brooklyn.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

No.4 LA Clippers trail Phoenix Suns 3-2. The Clippers had surprised No.1 Utah, and the Suns swept No.3 Denver. 

Cricket:

In cricket, New Zealand defeated India to win the inaugural World Test Championship Final. 

Auto Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. NASCAR and iRacing announced an official partnership. Gordon said he is retiring from Penske at end of 2021. Six teams were fined after Pocono race. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:

02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon

02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell

02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell

02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron

03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson

03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.

03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney

03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano

04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-Martin Truex Jr.

04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Bowman

04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-Keselowski

05/02/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas-Kyle Busch

05/09/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington-Martin Truex Jr.

05/16/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover, Drydene 400-Alex Bowman

05/23/21 NASCAR Cup Series at COTA, EchoPark Texas GP-Chase Elliott

05/30/21 Coca-Cola 600, Charlotte Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/06/21 Toyota Save Mart 350, Sonoma Raceway-Kyle Larson

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Open, Texas Motor Speedway-Aric Almirola

06/13/21 NASCAR All-Star Race, Texas Motor Speedway-Kyle Larson

06/20/21 Ally 400, Nashville Superspeedway-Kyle Larson

06/26/21 Pocono Organics CBD 325-Alex Bowman

06/27/21 Explore the Pocono Mountains 350-Kyle Busch

07/04/21 Jockey Made in America 250 by Kwik Trip-

Formula One began 2020 with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:

03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen

04/18/21-Italy-Verstappen edged Hamilton

05/02/21-Portugal-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/09/21-Spain-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/23/21-Monaco-Verstappen

06/06/21-Azerbaijan-Perez

06/20/21-France-Verstappen

06/27/21-Austria-Verstappen

07/04/21-Austria-

07/18/21-Great Britain-

08/02/21-Hungary-

08/29/21-Belgium-

09/05/21-Netherlands-

09/12/21-Italy-

09/26/21-Russia-

10/03/21-Singapore-

10/10/21-Japan-

10/24/21-United States

10/31/21-Mexico-

11/07/21-Brazil-

11/21/21-Australia-

12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-

12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-

IndyCar Racing circuit (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:

04/18/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park-Alex Palou

04/25/21-St. Petersburg Street Course-Josef Newgarden

05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 1-Scott Dixon

05/02/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 2-Pato O’Ward

05/15/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1

05/30/21-Indy 500

06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 1

06/13/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 2

06/20/21-Road America

07/04/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

07/11/21-Toronto Exhibition Place

08/08/21-Nashville Street Course

08/14/21-Indianapolis GP 2

08/21/21-Gateway Motorsports Park

09/11/21-Portland International Raceway

09/19/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

09/26/21-Streets of Long Beach

Travel News:

Portugal has just exempted children under-18 from quarantine, but they must be travelling with a fully vaccinated parent or guardian. There has been a spike in ‘air rage’ on US flights. There was the video of Capitol uprising folks shouting at flight attendants, the Southwest Airlines flight attendant who was punched in the face, the violent Delta passenger who had to be subdued near the cockpit, the American Airlines flight attendant scolding passengers, among others. The FAA received approximately 3,100 reports of unruly behavior, of which 487 have been investigated, between January and mid-June. The yearly average is 142. There have been incidents in Northern Ireland, The Netherlands, and New Zealand too. Authorities think that it may be fueled by the pandemic, and emerging from the pandemic into very tight quarters for hours on a plane, with complete strangers. As some 43.6 million Americans take to the roads, finally able to escape lockdowns, according to AAA, for the 4th of July weekend, they will be facing the highest gasoline prices since 2014.  The national average is $3.10/gallon, but many metro areas are seeing prices up to $1 higher per gallon. There is a surge in demand for gasoline and low supply due to not enough truckers to transport the fuel. Gasoline prices are 40% higher than last July 4th, but that was right in the middle of the pandemic lockdown. Las Vegas is betting big on Americans breaking out of their lockdowns and going to the destination city, opening the first new casino in years on the Strip, Resorts International. Large parties and concerts are planned at many of the casino resorts. 

Health News:  

As of this evening (7/01), globally, almost 4 million people have died from COVID-19.  More than 182,000,000 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 33.6 million people. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 604,000. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (518,066), India (399,459), Mexico (233,047), Peru (192,331), and UK (128,426). 

An outbreak linked to end-of-year trips to Majorca has prompted authorities to isolate Spanish teenager students and hold them in a Majorca hotel quarantine. NYC will hold a ticker tape parade on July 7th for healthcare heroes and essential workers who battled COVID-19.  

The more contagious Delta Variant of COVID-19 is likely to ruin another European Summer. India is dealing with a deadly fungus epidemic, in addition to COVID-19. The Irish government is delaying the return of some indoor activities beyond the 7/5 original deadline, including hospitality, over increasing cases of the Delta Variant of COVID-19. Scotland reported its biggest daily case increase and new infections in the UK hit a 5-month high. In Sydney, the delta variant fueled outbreak is becoming increasingly difficult to contain, despite Australia’s largest city being in lockdown for almost a week. The CDC reports that COVID-19 cases are rising again, and a lack of vaccinations coupled with the very contagious Delta Variant may be to blame. I still don’t understand all the people that refuse to get a vaccine shot or only get one shot in a two shot protocol. I lost a friend of mine yesterday to COVID-19 and he was five years younger than me and very fit. He wouldn’t get the shots.  A Chinese whistleblower is exposing COVID-19’s origins on Fox TV, saying that her husband is helping the Chinese Communist Party make her disappear for exposing the conspiracy. There have been a lot more allegations of the Chinese military having worked with coronavirus and testing as far back as 2017 and again in 2018, according to NBC and Fox. The laboratory in Wuhan is alleged to have worked closely with the Chinese military. The woman who is in charge of the Wuhan laboratory denies all of the allegations. Interestingly, as NBC pointed out last night, she herself has ties to the Chinese military. At this point, it’s all allegations and conspiracy theory. 

Scientists have pieced together clues from “patient zero”, a 5,000-year-old man who they believe is the ‘oldest plague victim’ and probably caught the disease from a rodent. GoodRx says that each year in January and July, manufacturers raise the prices of their medications. So far this month, 13 drugs have increased by an average of 3.9%.

Animal News:

It’s not Shark Week? Wait a minute, it is! The Shark Week blimp was seen flying/swimming over the Outer Banks on Wednesday, as well as Raleigh, NC, to promote the 33rd annual Discovery Channel event, which is very ironic, given the recent news. Near Catalina Island in California, Wednesday, a 15-year-old Boy Scout kayaker was bitten in the hand by a great white shark. In Cape Cod, a crowded beach watched a very large great white shark devour a seal in shallow water right near the beach, over the weekend. At the same time, a 39-year-old Northern California swimmer (just south of San Francisco) was bitten by a great white shark and, although he was able to swim to shore, he is still in serious condition. Also, a number of great white sharks were spotted close to the coast of North Carolina, apparently a ‘staging area’ as the sharks wait for the water north of that to warm up a bit. One attacked a 7-year-old girl at Ocean Isle Beach, just before the Shark Week blimp showed up. So, as the heatwave sends temperatures soaring and people to the beach for relief, the timing is bad because the sharks are also at the beach right now. That Tiger Sanctuary owner, Carole Baskins, from Florida is back in the news again, as her competition, the Tiger King, sits in jail, convicted for trying to kill her. In a new documentary, “The Conservation Game”, she is attacking popular animal expert and famed zookeeper, Jack “Jungle Jack” Hanna, whose family recently announced that he has dementia, and accusing him of not caring where all the animals went that he put on the Tonight Show and other talks shows, despite telling audiences that they’d be going to a zoo or sanctuary.  She is debunking that he actually gave animals to the Columbus Zoo or sanctuaries. It is part of a larger attack she is making on “faux-conservationists” and “wildlife experts”.  A Connecticut aquarium is auctioning off the chance to name 3 beluga whales recently shipped from Canada. Remember, as we visit fireworks displays or set off our own, pets do not do well with the sound of fireworks. It can be very traumatic. Shield them from the noise. 

Entertainment News:

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Bill Cosby’s indecent assault conviction on Wednesday, and he was released from prison. The ruling was because of a non-prosecution agreement Cosby had with a prior prosecutor. That prosecutor had given Cosby a deal not to file criminal charges against Cosby, if Cosby agreed to testify in a civil lawsuit (without the benefit of the Fifth Amendment) filed by Andrea Constand. Cosby did testify in the civil trial and settled for more than $3 million to Constand. The PA Supreme Court also disagreed with the trial court judge’s decision to let prosecutors call 5 other accusers in addition to Constand in Cosby’s retrial, after the jury deadlocked in the first trial. The ruling bars Cosby from being criminally tried again in the case, the alleged assaulting of Andrea Constand. The 83-year-old comedian was 2 years into a 3-10 year prison term. I didn’t realize that Cosby went blind 6-7 years ago due to Glaucoma. Some 60 women accused Cosby of sexual attacks. Jeffrey Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion was demolished and reduced to rubble. Will Smith has listed the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air mansion on Airbnb in celebration of the show’s 30th anniversary. The Golden Girls home is up for sale for $3 million. The Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC is now up for sale. Isn’t that near the old Post Office? Don Cheadle land Brigid Coulter got married during the pandemic. The judge has denied November request to remove Britney Spears’ father as her co-conservator, which he has done for 13 years. So, the Free Britney movement will continue. Britney posted a message to paparazzi and her fans. Christina Aguilera has declared her support for Britney Spears. Her father is now asking the court to investigate the allegations made about him during the conservatorship hearing. Quentin Tarantino’s last movie is now a novel. Elvis Costello dismisses claims Olivia Rodrigo plagiarized his music, saying that’s rock ‘n roll. Mark Hoppus of Blink-182 gave a cancer treatment update. Ed Sheeran keeps pulling the same prank on Courteney Cox. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” will premiere on Broadway in November. Megan McCain announced that 2021 would be her last season on The View, even though she had 2 more years on her contract. However, she had often complained that she was bullied on the show, as the only conservative on the show. As of today, college athletes in the US can start making money from the use of their name, image, or likeness (NIL). This includes the social media influencer angle that will allow athletes from lesser followed sports to earn significant money. 

Technology & Space News:

While Elon Musk of Tesla was flexing his comedy/acting muscles on Saturday Night Live, while also bashing some cryptocurrencies, Tesla was dealt a huge blow, as almost all Tesla cars in China need a safety fix. Pinterest has made the unusual move to ban all weight-loss ads and imagery, saying that it is “body-shaming”. A flying car has completed a test flight between airports. Speaking of Amazon, they plan to manufacture a delivery robot tech in Finland. US and UK agencies accuse Russia of a cyber-campaign, which is attacking targets including parliaments and political operations in a continuing operation. More than 200 high-profile women have written to social media chiefs to tell them to take action to stop online abuse. The BBC presenter, Nolan, traced the identity of a person behind defamatory remarks about him (trolling) and he is paying Nolan a six-figure damages sum. OneWeb has laid a path to offering commercial broadband services. The London-based tech firm sent up another 36 internet satellites on a Russian Soyuz rocket. Tim Berners-Lee sold his web source code NFT for $5.4 million. I mentioned this in a previous Commentary, about how it is displayed as a work of art, along with a video. Well, it turns out that the video actually has a coding error. But, the original code doesn’t. A UK space start-up got a $500 million cash injection. Controversial John McAfee, who shot to fame in the 1980s, after launching an anti-virus software company he named after himself. He went on the run in Belize in 2008, then in 2012, his neighbor was murdered. Officials caught up with him in Guatemala, with a 17-year-old girl and a large number of weapons in his home. He was expected to be charged with his neighbor’s murder, but then was released and allowed to fly to Miami. In 2019, a Florida court ordered him to pay $25 million to his neighbor’s estate in a wrongful death claim. He then started making money again, announced he was running for US President, but then arrested in Spain. He was accused of failing to file tax returns for 4 years. Spain’s National Court jus authorized his extradition back to the US. Within hours, he was found dead in his cell. His lawyer said that he had killed himself. 

US News:

Jurors are now deciding the fate of Alabama bigamist charged with killing his pregnant wife, two children, and mother-in-law. The CFO of the Trump Organization has been arrested, along with other executives, for 15 charges regarding alleged tax fraud scheme over the last 15 years. Supposedly, the company paid several executives with expensive cars, apartments, and tuition to pay them “off the books” and avoid taxes. So far, President Trump has not been named. He is still being investigated for alleged influencing of the Georgia Senatorial election and investigated for alleged influence on the US Capitol uprising. A Washington, DC 5-story building under construction collapsed on Thursday. A massive explosion detonated in a Los Angeles suburb Thursday, as law enforcement seized illegal fireworks and had put them in an armored truck. They intended to safely detonate the huge 6,000-pound payload, but it prematurely detonated, destroying the truck, damaging nearby houses and totaling parked cars, injuring 17 people, 10 of them from law enforcement. NYC is reopening the massive 4th of July celebration that was cancelled last year, on 5 barges in the East river off Manhattan. Macy’s is sponsoring it and it will be held at 8pm on Sunday night. Many Southwest communities are canceling planned fireworks displays, because of record heatwave and drought. Politico reports that VP Kamala Harris’ office is rife with dissent and an aide said it’s “not a healthy environment.” Politico interviewed 22 current and former vice presidential aides, administration officials, and associates of Harris and Biden, who described a tense and at times “dour” office atmosphere. Most of the ire is directed at Harris’ chief of staff, Tina Flournoy. The US is projected to have a $3 trillion budget deficit this year, close to the 2020 record, while the economy will expand significantly more than previously forecast, according to the Congressional Budget Office, who incorporated the impact of President Biden’s COVID-19 relief programs. While Initial Unemployment Claims announced Thursday fell last week in the US by more than analysts projected, reaching a pandemic low, applications still remained above pre-COVID levels and many employers are still saying they are having trouble finding qualified workers.

Bankruptcy:

It turns out that the pandemic ripple effect of shutdowns of factories that produce computer chips, is being seen in almost every industry globally. Not only the direct ripples in computers and cellphone supplies, but also in vehicles, houses, farming products, etc. Many of these industries further down the line from computer chips are highly computerized now and rely on the technology to continue to function normally. So, while direct impacts from shutdowns of those industries’ factories, transport, distributors, and retailers from the pandemic hurt supply, so has the ripple effect from chip manufacture. I’m hearing and reading a lot of anecdotal reports of how difficult it is to find a car, especially used cars, how to find a home or build a home, how difficult it is to get refrigerators, and how prices are going up for certain foods.  This lack of supply due to lack of computerization or repair is actually a factor in the increasing global inflation. Demand is greater, supply is less, prices are going up. I was just at a high-end shopping mall in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, and noticed how empty it was of customers, how many less salespeople there were, and how less racks of products the stores were displaying. I assume that it is the continuation of the globalization and internet shopping impact on brick and mortar stores. That wasn’t very surprising. It wasn’t even that surprising that the only packed store was the Apple store. What was surprising is that there was a new brick and mortar Amazon store. So, the internet shopping giant which has been hammering brick and mortar stores, actually built its own brick and mortar stores. Strange full circle. 2021 may see many restaurants go out of business. According to the National Restaurant Association, some restaurants are not going to be able to recover from the losses due to COVID-19 lockdowns and now lack of staff, and will have to close many, if not all of their locations. These are the 53 major chains that are in serious danger of disappearing completely, according to Reference.com (this list seems to basically list ALL the fast food restaurants except McDonald’s. Starbucks, seriously? In all fairness, the online periodical does give reasons why for each and how many stores have closed and how many are left open and what the finances look like. I just didn’t have the space (patience) to type all of that. :

Applebee’s-down to 1200 locations

Carabba’s Italian Grill

Sbarro

Ruby Tuesday

Krystal

Bar Louie

Houlihan’s

Hooters

Boston Market

Papa John’s

Golden Corral

Ponderosa Steakhouse

Steak ‘n Shake

Joe’s Crab Shack

Noodles & Company

Old Country Buffet

The Cheesecake Factory

TGI Friday’s

Red Robin

Friendly’s

Qdoba

Buffalo Wild Wings

Checkers and Rally’s

Jack in the Box

Roy Rogers/Hardee’s

Baja Fresh

Fuddruckers

O’Charley’s

Quiznos

Bojangles’

IHOP

Luby’s

Taco Bell

Subway

Marie Callendar’s

McCormick & Schmick’s

Chipotle

Burger King

Pizza Hut

Carl’s Jr.

Kona Grill

Perkins

Starbucks

Hometown Buffet

Pie Five

Eat’n Park

Pollo Tropical

Taco Cabana

Potbelly Sandwich Shop

Denny’s

Tad’s Steaks

Pieology

Brio Tuscan Grille and Bravo! Cucina Italiana (I was just at one last night!)

Zinburger

TooJay’s

Benihana

Sonic

Papa Murphy’s

Hard Rock Café

Pappas Restaurants

Rubio’s Coastal Grill

Le Pain Quotidien

Del Frisco’s Grille

Tim Hortons (branches in the US only)

PizzaRev

Specialty’s Café & Bakery

Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes

Dave & Buster’s

Out of all this negativity, here is some bright bankruptcy news. Hertz is back out of bankruptcy and its OTC stock began trading again. However, it was a volatile ride on Thursday. Krispy Crème is also back trading.

International News:

In Saskatchewan, Canada, 751 unmarked graves were discovered at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School. Former president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, died at the age of 61.  Apple Daily, a pro-democracy newspaper, accused of violating the national security law in Hong Kong, closed. Tigrayan fighters (Ethiopian rebels) have continued to gain more ground in war-torn North Ethiopia. They have already taken the regional capital from government forces. The Ethiopian government has denied targeting civilians, but many died when a missile hit a crowded Tigray market. After years of heated debate, France has extended fertility treatment and IVF to lesbians and single women. South Africa ex-President Zuma has been sentenced to jail. A builder has been arrested in Greece in possession of a stolen Picasso. In unrelated news, Portugal’s top art collector, Joe Berardo, has been arrested in a fraud case. He is alleged to have accumulated nearly 1 billion Euros in debt at 3 banks. Protestors have toppled a statue of Christopher Columbus in Colombia. A British architect who passed away 3 years ago, left his 14th century castle, valued at just under $2 million, to his gardener in 2018, who he considered like “the son he never had.” The gardener is now putting the property on the market. The castle was actually originally built for what amounts to under $50. 

Florida:

The awful news here and ongoing tragedy is the June 24th collapse of a 12-story beachfront condominium tower, Champagne, in Surfside, Florida, a town near Miami. At least 10 people are confirmed dead, 11 others injured and 151 people are still missing in the rubble. The collapse and almost complete destruction occurred at about 1:30am, as most people slept. 35 people were rescued from the uncollapsed portion of the building and two people have been rescued from the rubble. 55 units of the 136 in the building were destroyed in the collapse. There were recent repairs being done on the roof of the building. The structure was 40-years-old and was in the process of its 40-year reinspection report, a process that usually takes about one year, and had not yet been completed. However, in 2018, an inspection done on the building by an engineering firm found a “major error” in the construction of the pool deck, which led to collected water which severely damaged the concrete slabs below the pool deck. The report said that all of the waterproofing below the pool deck needed to be replaced, or it could ruin the concrete below.  The pool deck was on top of the parking garage and the garage’s ceiling slabs already showed several sizeable hairline cracks and exposed rebar. Those recommended concrete restoration repairs were never done. It’s heartbreaking to watch the news. In a smaller scale, it reminds me a little of the Twin Towers collapse on 9/11, but here the villain is probably going to be the management or owners of the building, rather than terrorists.  There is another 12-story tower one block north that was built by the same builders and is the same age, which the Mayor of Surfside is considering evacuating all occupants from and putting them in hotels with FEMA funds. The search was called off temporarily overnight, just as President Biden and the First Lady arrived at the site, when the remaining part of the building began shifting, putting emergency crews in potential danger. But, it resumed around 6pm. After Palm Beach County had toxins in its water supply two weeks ago, forcing the county to alert people not to drink the water, even boiled, the Treasure Coast has now issued a blue-green algae alert regarding the toxins that that releases.

I am singing the National Anthem (my 155th MLB game) at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL, for the single-A Cardinals, prior to the 4th of July fireworks display, on Saturday. 

Jokes and Such:

Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J

63. What do you call malware on a Kindle?

A bookworm.

64. Did you hear about the painter who was hospitalized?

The doctors say it was due to too many strokes.

65. Why are crabs so bad at sharing?

Because they’re all shellfish.)

66. What did the tie say to the hat?

You go on ahead. I’ll hang around.

67. How do you make a tissue dance?

Put a little boogie in it.

68. What do you call a cow with a twitch?

Beef jerky.

69. I started a new job as a tailor last week.

It’s been sew-sew.

70. What concert only costs 45 cents?

50 Cent featuring Nickleback.

71. What kind of shoes does a spy wear?

Sneakers.

72. I’ve been trying to make a sarcastic club, but it’s been really hard to tell if people are interested in joining or not.

73. And the Lord said unto John, “Come forth and you will receive eternal life.”

But John came fifth and won a toaster.

74. What do you call a fake noodle?

An impasta.

75. My wife accused me the other day of being too immature.

I told her there were no girls allowed in my fort.

76. Someone stole my mood ring yesterday.

I still don’t know how I feel about that.

77. A Roman legionnaire walks into a bar, holds up two fingers and says, “Five beers, please.”

78. I tried to catch fog yesterday.

Mist.

79. Working in a mirror factory is something I can totally see myself doing.

80. Someone stole my Microsoft Office and they’re gonna pay.

You have my Word.

81. What do you call a dog with no legs?

It doesn’t matter, it’s not going to come anyway.

82. You know what they say about cliffhangers…

I promise that they will continue to be corny or cornier, unless you give me some good clean jokes for adults…

Repo Commentary-06/15/21

I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo

So, I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. 

  • I have completed the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals. Our new normal of e-Learning.
  • I am periodically consulting with 2 large firms about repo issues and business plans.  
  • I am sharing my opinion and expertise with the industry in articles in various periodicals. 
  • I am consulting with an electronic trading platform, potentially for Repo. 
  • I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums. 
  • I  was the panel moderator for a panel on trends in Financial Technology, pre- and post-Pandemic, for a virtual conference held by Securities Finance Times on May 6. There were about 400 people signed up for the Zoom conference on Financial Technology. I think it went really well.
  • I was interviewed by my former colleague, one time COO of Cantor Fitzgerald, Ari Schonbrun, for his wildly popular (top 5% in the world) Apple podcast “Whispers and Bricks”. I think it was the latest chapter published online and on LinkedIn. Many of you who have known me over the last 39 years in the industry, probably don’t know this personal stuff about me. Here it is at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jeff-kidwell-repo-expert-and-movie-buff/id1553840938?i=1000515889833

Kidwell Consultants, LLC is available FOR HIRE as a consultant. I’m actually not that busy (for me) at the moment.  So, if you need my Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeff@kidwellconsultants.com) or (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested  in entertaining (70-80%) you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. You have more than enough stress already!  Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures, to make it better! 

Holidays or Events (06/16):

  • Bloomsday (Dublin, Ireland) celebration of “Ulysses” and the author James Joyce
  • Engineer’s Day (Argentina)
  • Father’s Day (Seychelles)
  • International Day of the African Child (Organization of African Unity)
  • Martyrdom of Furu Arjan Dev (Sikhism)
  • Sussex Day (Sussex)
  • Youth Day (South Africa)
  • Fresh Veggies Day
  • Ladies’ Initiated in Baseball Day
  • No Orange Clothes Day
  • Wish Fulfillment Day
  • National Fudge Day
  • National Vinegar Day
  • World Sea Turtle Day

Some Famous People Born on (06/16):

  • 1139-Emperor Konoe of Japan
  • 1829-Geronimo, American tribal leader
  • 1858-Gustaf V of Sweden
  • 1890-Stan Laurel, English actor and comedian
  • 1938-Joyce Carol Oates, American novelist, short story writer, critic, and poet
  • 1939-Billy “Crash” Craddock, American singer-songwriter
  • 1946-Derek Sanderson, Canadian ice hockey player and sportscaster
  • 1947-Al Cowlings, American ex-NFL player and close friend of O.J. Simpson and Nicole Brown Simpson
  • 1948-Ron LeFlore, American baseball player and manager
  • 1951-Roberto Duran, Panamanian boxer
  • 1952-Gino Vannelli, Canadian singer-songwriter
  • 1955-Laurie Metcalf, American actress
  • 1962-Wally Joyner, American baseball player and coach
  • 1970-Phil Mickelson, American golfer
  • 1971-Tupac Shakur, American rapper and producer
  • 1975-Anthony Carter, American basketball player and coach
  • 1988-Keshia Chante, Canadian singer

Daily Weird Facts:

The US government allegedly poisoned alcohol during Prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s, killing over an estimated 10,000 people. 

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“Being honest may not get you a lot of friends but It’ll always get you the right ones.”—John Lennon

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18 

$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18

$48.63 on 01/07/19 

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27 

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21

$66.34/barrel on 03/05

$61.30/barrel on 04/01

$63.68/barrel on 05/13

$72.25/barrel on 06/15

Oil prices have jumped again, while demand for gasoline has jumped too, keeping the price of gasoline in the US near a two-year high. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station jumped 12 cents in the past 2 weeks, to $2.88/gallon. However, gasoline prices have been rising faster in surrounding areas and in the country. 

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:

104.80 on 02/07/20

99.23 on 03/11/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

110.63 on 04/01/21

108.61 on 04/28/21

109.47 on 05/13/21

110.05 on 06/15/21

One Euro was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.1426 

12/06/19 at $1.1688

03/11/20 at $1.1937

05/04 at $1.0903

12/16/20 at $1.2196

02/04 at $1.2625

04/01 at $1.1774

04/28 at $1.2123

05/13 at $1.2077

06/15 at $1.2127

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.2655 

12/06/19 at $1.3819

02/07/20 at $1.3574

03/24 at $1.2231

12/16/20 at $1.3494

02/16 at $1.3903

04/01 at $1.3832

04/28 at $1.3942

05/13 at $1.4045

06/15 at $1.4083

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24/18

1.2530 on 12/06/19

1.2390 on 01/17/20

1.3540 on 03/18

1.2752 on 12/16/20

1.2548 on 04/01

1.2315 on 04/28

1.2160 on 05/13

1.2186 on 06/15

For Gold prices, I have decided to put this in list form, but maintain a trimmed list of dates with prices.

10/02/19 $1498.70/ounce 

03/11/20 $1,641/ounce

07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce

11/30/20 $1,774.00 

01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00

03/05/21 $1,698.70

04/01/21 $1,730.00

04/28/21 $1,782.20

05/13/21 $1,826.20

06/15/21 $1,859.90

Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25/18 

$6,350 on 10/5/18

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,774.97 on 01/07/19 

$3,598.90 on 01/16 

$3,421.10 on 02/06 

$3,826.44 on 02/26

$8,100.00 on 05/16

$7,215.79 on 05/17

$9,088.59 on 06/18

$11,919.30 on 06/25

$9,790.37 on 07/24

$10,183.90 on 09/10

$8,235.46 on 10/02

$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

$7,871.60 on 03/11/20

$5,216.64 on 03/18/20

$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20

$10,849.00 on 07/27/20

$15,160.90 on 11/10/20

$19,411.50 on 11/30/20

$20,665.10 on 12/16/20

$31,592.20 on 01/04/21

$36,433.00 on 01/13/21

$36,607.50 on 02/04/21

$48,526.90 on 02/16/21

$58,093.71 on 02/21/21

$43,170.01 on 02/28/21

$49,207.43 on 03/05/21

$58,979.60 on 04/01/21

$54,886.50 on 04/28/21

$54,242.00 on 05/12/21

$39,804.90 on 06/15/21

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  On 3/13/20, it had cratered at $3,867.  On 4/15/21, it hit a high of $63,237.  It has since made more than a 30% correction. I am not hearing as much from all the 20 and 30-year-olds down here. 

Cryptocurrency advocates and critics have broadly welcomed the Basel Committee’s stated intention to subject digital currencies to more stringent oversight than other assets, per FT. El Salvador shocked the market and world with its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender. The IMF said that the action may imply a series of risks and regulatory challenges.  

Brexit:

British nationals in France are facing losing rights if they miss proof of residency deadline. There is currently a UK/EU sausage spat sizzling. Just can’t miss alliteration opportunities like that! Ireland now expects UK Brexit stance to shift, after G7 pressure. The EU has said that its patience is wearing thin in UK trade war talks. UK has signed a trade deal with Norway and Iceland. UK has begun a process to join Asia-Pacific trade bloc, the 11-member Trans-Pacific Partnership.  

Global Financial News:

The G-7 summit concluded with a call for a response to China’s “non-market economic practices,” a transparent study into the origins of COVID-19, and support for an infrastructure initiative for emerging economies to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The proposals were largely seen as a rebuke of China’s global influence. There is an ‘emerging’ trend, according to Bloomberg, of institutional investors’ growing appetite for bonds issued by emerging markets that are moving to lessen inflation, such as Brazil and Russia. Another trend has been a global trend toward digitization of payments, which is quickly being capitalized on by payment processors such as Stripe, Adyen and Checkout.com, who now have a combined market value of $170 billion. There is an IPO of Marqeta soon, which will give them an even bigger market share. Staying on payment systems Facebook’s new QR payment system will supposedly not pose an immediate threat to bank-backed payment systems, like Zelle, according to Crone Consulting. They say that consumers will be a little cautious with the social media company because of privacy concerns. Small Exchange is planning on launching cannabis futures on 6/21/21. The WSJ says that determining how the performance of stocks focused on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors compares with the broader market is made more difficult by differences in rating systems used by data providers, leading to discrepancies in the data. SIFMA has responded to the SEC’s request for input on setting rules and standards for Climate Change disclosure. SIFMA says that the first step, and a challenging and burdensome task, is to establish metrics to be used. Lawmakers had surprisingly little to say to the CEOs of top US banks, when they said in a recent hearing that cybersecurity is their biggest concern. Just after the cyber attacks on a major pipeline and a major meat distributor, it looks more and more like cybersecurity is going to be the corporate world’s problem, not the government’s. The government will defend against war, missile attack, natural disaster, etc., but companies are on their own during the CyberWar.  More big corporations are falling prey to cyberattacks and paying ransoms in Bitcoin. The FBI is warning against making such payments and has actually recovered some Bitcoins. JP Morgan has set up a specialist unit for private capital. ESMA has responded to the EC’s review of Central Securities Depository Regulation. Broadridge has partnered with AccessFintech to collaborate to transform resolution of settlement fails. Clearstream has gained CSDR licenses for its international CSD, Clearstream Banking. The European Association of Clearing Houses (EACH) has urged the EC to agree with ESMA and further delay the implementation. Of CSDR’s SDR beyond February 2022. Although CSDR has certainly been a popular topic in the market, most market participants have not seen any real changes in behavior just yet. 

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. The specter of inflation is spooking the stock market, even though the Fed said the price spike is temporary.  The SEC wants a broad examination of equity market structure. 

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates):

05/12/21  33,587.66

03/31/21  32,981.55

01/13/21   31,060.47

12/31/20   30,606.48

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/22/20   27,005.84

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/08/20   27,572.44

6/03/20     26,269.89

5/27/20     25,548.27

4/17/20     24,242.49

3/23/20    18,591.93

3/03/20     25,917.41

2/12/20     29,551.42 record high

S&P 500 has closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2,885.58 

12/26/18 at 2,467.70 

12/06/19 at 3,145.91

02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 2,237.40

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/13/21 at 3,809.84

02/03/21 at 3,830.17

02/16/21 at 3,923.59

03/05/21 at 3,841.94

03/31/21 at 3,972.89

05/12/21 at 4,063.04

S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record on 12/8 of 3,702.25, then backed off, then shot higher again to a new record 02/16.  It has continued to be up at new record highs. 

Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

12/06/19 at 8,656.07

02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high 

03/23/20 at 6,860.67

06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/13/21 at 13,128.95 

02/03/21 at 13,610.54

02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high

03/05/21 at 12,920.15

03/31/21 at 13,246.87

05/12/21 at 13,031.68

The US Treasury market has seen yields rise slightly ahead of the FOMC meeting, as traders are taking some risk off, with some uncertainty about what the Fed may do or say. (see below) Many analysts at the top Wall Street banks are advising clients that the pendulum is shifting and that there is a risk of a hawkish tilt, with rising inflation. 

2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

02/06/20 at 1.44%

03/11/20 at 0.50%

03/17/20 at 0.47%

03/23/20 at 0.28% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.16% historic low

07/24/20 at 0.14% new historic low

12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/13/21 at 0.14%

02/03/21 at 0.11%

02/16/21 at 0.11%

03/05/21 at 0.14%

03/31/21 at 0.16%

05/12/21 at 0.16%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

12/06/19 at 1.64%

02/06/20 at 1.43%

03/11/20 at 0.58%

03/17/20 at 0.54%

03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.21%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!

01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!

01/13/21 at 0.22%

02/03/21 at 0.17%

02/16/21 at 0.17%

03/05/21 at 0.32%

03/31/21 at 0.35%

05/12/21 at 0.35%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

02/07/20 at 1.45%

03/11/20 at 0.66%

03/17/20 at 0.56%

03/23/20 at 0.38% 

03/26/20 at 0.51%

03/31/20 at 0.37%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/13/21 at 0.48%

02/03/21 at 0.46%

02/16/21 at 0.42%

03/05/21 at 0.79%

03/31/21 at 0.92%

05/12/21 at 0.87%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

02/06/20 at 1.56%

03/11/20 at 0.78%

03/17/20 at 0.91%

03/23/20 at 0.63% 

03/26/20 at 0.72%

03/31/20 at 0.55%

07/24/20 at 0.44%

11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/13/21 at 0.80%

02/03/21 at 0.81%

02/16/21 at 0.76%

03/05/21 at 1.23%

03/31/21 at 1.40%

05/12/21 at 1.34%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!

02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!

03/11/20 at 0.82%

03/17/20 at 1.02% and back up again

03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again

07/24/20 at 0.59%

11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/13/21 at 1.10%

02/03/21 at 1.15%

02/16/21 at 1.09%

03/05/21 at 1.56%

03/31/21 at 1.74%

05/12/21 at 1.69%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

02/06/20 at 2.11%

03/11/20 at 1.30%

03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!

03/23/20 at 1.33% back down

07/24/20 at 1.23%

11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/13/21 at 1.82%

02/03/21 at 1.92%

02/16/21 at 1.84%

03/05/21 at 2.28%

03/31/21 at 2.41%

05/12/21 at 2.40%

Housing News:

There has been a shift in buyer behavior in Florida, which is reshaping the real estate market here. In Florida, people are keeping a close eye on out-of-state buyers, as they continue flocking down to Florida. Obviously, the pandemic and remote work and home life were deeply affected, and have fueled people to consider where they want to live and what kind of lifestyle they want. Extremely low mortgage rates, coupled with no Florida state income tax, have rocketed our real estate market. Buyers’ demand is still outpacing supply here in Florida, and just like everywhere else, builders and developers are dealing with shortages of raw building materials and record high prices.  It’s funny that we are chatting about this now, because June is National Homeownership Month (also the first month of the Atlantic Hurricane season). Which leads me into another topic that Floridians are wrestling with. With the last several years of higher numbers of tropical storms and hurricanes, and insurance companies still recouping money paid out, home insurance rates and cancellations have increased dramatically. So, I would say, new buyers beware. Port St. Lucie, FL is now No.4 in the nation for median housing market increases since 2017. In the past 4 years, median home sale prices there rose nearly 58%. A Longboat Key mansion is being listed at $12.9 million now. Bidders are offering as much as 10% over asking prices in a flurry of activity in Jacksonville, FL. Florida Realtors have filed a lawsuit seeking an end to CDC eviction moratorium. Kensington Mortgages sold UK’s first green RMBS bond. The Senate has introduced bills aiming to revise rules for Retirement Plans. 

Repo/Securities Financing News:                              

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The Federal Reserve and other regulators are growing impatient with the market regarding LIBOR. Fed’s Quarles said there is “no path forward” for LIBOR and urges market participants to shift their derivatives and other contracts to the Secured Overnight Funding Rate (SOFR). The message was then repeated by Fed’s Powell and Treasury’s Yellen. That said, five firms have created US Dollar LIBOR replacement rates that could provide an alternative to the Federal Reserve’s SOFR, but US regulators have expressed concerns over the potential risks posed by these alternative rates. I am not going to comment on that. As the FOMC meets (see below), I like by friend, Scott Skyrm’s take on it. The Fed could increase the rate on the RRP to 0.05%, which might force GC repo rates higher to compete with the Fed paying cash providers 5bp more. However, it doesn’t solve the present dislocation that there isn’t enough collateral for the cash in the market and the RRP is a disintermediation of the broker/dealers with their own typical cash providers. The second solution, to taper QE, is probably the logical choice, but will be the least friendly to other markets and perhaps to the public. But, it would solve the collateral shortage problem. The third solution, the one that Scott and I believe the Fed should choose, is to adjust the Interest On Excess Reserves (IOER) rate higher, which would in turn raise the average Fed Funds rate, which would in turn raise the GC Repo rate.  All three products compete with each other for that elusive cash. 

Securities Finance Industry Conferences

This section is undergoing renovation. I am working on new sources of virtual conferences, networking, and symposiums, rather than continuing to run the 25-30 annual physical conferences for the industry, which are no longer being held, during the pandemic (and may not be all held in the future, after the pandemic). 

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. 

The next FOMC meetings are: 06/16/21, 07/28/21, 09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in.  

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.

The FOMC meets 6/16. Lately, FOMC meetings have been followed by policy statements that are carefully positive, with a nod to the slow reemergence of the economy from the pandemic.  However, many economists think THIS meeting could be very different. Monetary policy is still in full Ease mode, with the Fed Funds target at 0.00%-0.25%, although Repo rates are near 0.00%, and QE is still huge with $120 billion of buying per month. Well, one might say, the economy is still struggling and unemployment is high (still around 5.5%) and certain sectors have not recovered at all, and we have a housing supply crisis. But, the inflation figures are all up significantly, and annualized that could scare the Fed. Even though the economy is not running at full capacity, GDP is projected at 6.4%. So, looking at the Fed’s longterm Mission statement, Inflation is an important topic, as is economic growth. True, Unemployment is still a problem, but the Fed may choose to tweak their Easing policy a bit at this meeting. 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Swarms of earthquakes are hammering a California lake. Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. A little quieter than it has been previously:

06/07 4.7 Pagan Region, Northern Mariana Islands

06/07 5.1 southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

06/07 4.7 ESE of Bugasong, Philippines

06/07 4.5 S of Nullagine, Australia

06/07 4.5 N of Caluula, Somalia

06/07 4.7 South Sandwich Islands

06/07 5.3 NE of Tual, Indonesia

06/06 4.6 WSW of Gorontalo, Indonesia

06/06 5.7 Kermadec Islands region

06/06 4.6 Pulau Pulau Tanimbar, Indonesia

Weather:

The nation is seeing record high temperatures, as a major heatwave has blanketed the nation, particularly in the Southwest. Parts of Texas and Louisiana are seeing temps in the 100s. But, in Palm Desert, parts of Arizona, and parts of New Mexico, temperatures have been as high as 118, and the high hasn’t dipped below 111 in a week. The National Weather Service has issued excessive heat watches and warnings throughout California, southern Nevada, western and southern Arizona and Utah. On Sunday, Salt Lake City registered a 102 temp, breaking the day’s record from 1918. Here in Florida, we have temperatures in the mid-90s, but with high humidity and frequent showers. The showers are much needed as we are in a drought.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season BEGAN June 1st and ends November 30th.  According to CNN, one thing about 2020 that people didn’t notice during the pandemic is that hurricane forecasts improved. Focus is now on size and speed of the approaching storm and the critical “cone of uncertainty”, which affects a certain population. 2021 is expected by the NOAA to be an Active hurricane season. They expect a likely range of 13-20 named storms (winds of 39mph or higher). They expect 6-10 of them to be Hurricanes, and of that 3-5 reaching Category 3 or stronger. There are currently no tropical cyclones in the Atlantic at this time. Tropical Disturbance 2 is making its way up to Nova Scotia, off of the East Coast of the US. Another Disturbance, which could become a Tropical Storm, is in the Gulf of Mexico and may track towards Texas and Louisiana. 

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. There are no tropical cyclones currently in the Eastern North Pacific or Central North Pacific. 

Sports News:       

MLB:

In the 2020 pandemic-shortened season, in the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series. 

For 2021, MLB continues to have limited seating at ballparks, but it depends on the ballpark location. There have been early surprises, like the Red Sox and the White Sox. The trade deadline isn’t until 7/30/21, but rumors are already flying. I would think this would be a tough year for MLB owners to figure out whether they need more to make it to the playoffs or should rid salary to rebuild and not make the playoffs, since the divisions are unusually tight this far into the season. However, at the moment, 7 teams have sub 1% postseason odds, and may be prime traders. The Diamondbacks could trade IF Eduardo Escobar, and listen to offers for Ketel Marte and Carson Kelly. They also could trade pitcher Merrill Kelly. The Orioles, who seem to have been rebuilding for decades, find themselves in that predicament again, and could trade SS Freddy Galvis and pitcher Tanner Scott. The Rockies could trade superstar SS Trevor Story and/or pitcher Jon Gray. The Tigers may trade OF Robbie Grossman, as Miguel Cabrera’s contract is un-tradeable. They may also be willing to let go pitcher Matthew Boyd. The Twins may have DH Nelson Cruz available, as well as pitcher Michael Pinada. The Pirates have 2B Adam Frazier and pitcher Richard Rodriguez available. The Rangers could trade RF Joey Gallo and/or pitcher Kyle Gibson. For those purists who believe that there shouldn’t be a DH, pitchers are hitting a pathetic .108 while striking out more than half their at-bats. The Padres remain interested in Rangers slugger Joey Gallo. Injured Mike Trout (calf) is uncertain of his return date to the Angels. Yankee ace Severino had a promising rehab start. Rockies’ Pint, No.4 pick in the 2016 Draft has retired from baseball. Manager Tony LaRussa has moved into second place on MLB wins list. I had a joke about his driving here, but I’m going to let it go. The MLB said it will now crack down on foreign substances on the baseball (pine tar, spit, gum, etc.). The Phillies home plate netting fell, forcing a game delay. A 1914 Babe Ruth pre-rookie baseball car, valued at $6 million, has sold for a record-breaking price for a sports card. The previous record was for a 1952 Mickey Mantle card at $5.2 million.  

Current standings (06/15), after about 64-67 games:

AL EAST this continues to look like a 4-team race and Boston is for real this year. The Blue Jays and Yankees have fallen off and the Red Sox are having difficulty keeping pace with the Rays. It now looks more like a 2-team race. 

Tampa Bay

Boston

Toronto

NY Yankees

Baltimore

AL CENTRAL this could be the runaway division for the White Sox, as the Indians and Twins are floundering. The Indians have come back, but the other teams have fallen further.

Chicago WS

Cleveland

Kansas City

Detroit

Minnesota

AL WEST the Astros will likely take the division and the The A’s have been a surprise though. They maintain a slim edge over the Astros. The Angels, who had been floundering, despite their superstars, has come on of late.

Oakland

Houston
LA Angels

Seattle

Texas

NL EAST this division continues to underperform and the Braves seem to be in trouble. The Mets hold a slim lead over the Phillies. Nobody is really out of it yet.

NY Mets

Philadelphia

Atlanta

Washington

Miami

NL CENTRAL the Cardinals were looking the best, but the Cubs are certainly right there this year. But, the Cards just lost 5 in a row and fell from First to Third. The Brewers just won 4 in a row and 9 out of 10 to leapfrog the Cards. Cubs and Cards now tied for first place.

Milwaukee

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati

St. Louis

Pittsburgh

NL WEST the World Champion Dodgers looked like they would run away with the division, but the Giants said ‘hold my beer’. You can’t count the Padres out either. 

San Francisco

LA Dodgers

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

Golf:

The PGA Tour 2021 season rolls on. They had an exciting tournament this past weekend in Muirfield Village, Jack’s course, at the Memorial Tournament presented by Nationwide in Dublin, OH. The three leaders battled it out until the last 2 holes, when it became just two former NCAA rivals, and they each hit bad shots and good shots at the same time. But, in the Playoffs, one putt didn’t drop (Collin Morikawa) and the other one did (Patrick Cantlay). But, the tournament was also controversially exciting. Jon Rahm was the leader after 54-holes, six shots ahead, basically lapping the rest of the field, until he was informed before play in the Final Round that he had tested positive that morning for COVID-19 and had to Withdraw from the tournament. He is still the betting favorite to win US Open at Torrey Pines next weekend. AMeanwhile, elsewhere, the US Women’s Open had its own excitement, as 19-year-old Yuka Saso came from way behind to win in a 3-hole Playoff with Nasa Hataoka, the trophy, and a $1 million paycheck. Also, Saso was a member of the JLPGA Tour, but one the status on the LPGA Tour, after her victory. She had qualified for the LPGA field in the US Women’s Open by virtue of her world ranking in the Top 75. So, her second ever LPGA start earned her a 5-year membership on the LPGA Tour. 

NFL:

The 2020 NFL season ended with Super Bowl LV, which was played in Tampa Bay, with the Bucs acting as home team, the first time that a Super Bowl was played in the city where one of the teams was from. Despite the odds against it and his age against him, QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl over the Chiefs, 31-9. Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, as he won his 7thSuper Bowl, more than any franchise, let alone any player, in 10 trips to the Super Bowl. 

Adam Vinatieri, veteran placekicker for the Colts, has retired and revealed that when he left the Patriots, he nearly signed with Packers. Bucs coach Bruce Arians says QB Tom Brady’s knee recovery could limit him at minicamp and said, “He may be doing a lot of coaching.”  Arians also said that 2nd round QB Kyle Trask is not far behind QB Andrew Luck “mentally-wise”. I love the Repo Commentary, because I can learn new English words every time!  Arians coached Luck as a rookie with the Colts. Former Titans TE Delanie Walker worked out with the 49ers on Wednesday. Steelers QB Big Ben said “I’m going to approach this season like I do every season: like it’s my last.” The Texans have signed former Patriots FB Rex Burkhead. Former Washington RT Morgan Moses is trying out with the Bears. The Bengals have signed first-round WR Ja’Marr Chase to a rookie deal. The Cowboys are not interested in trading LB Leighton Vander Esch. As the Falcons usher in a new era under new head coach Arthur Smith, where does that leave superstar WR Julio Jones? Bengals coach Zac Taylor says QB Joe Burrow is on track to return as good as new at training camp in July. Cowboys TE Blake Jarwin is progressing from ACL tear, ready to ‘compete’ for snaps in training camp. Broncos WR Jerry Jeudy says “I feel I’ve matured” after a drop-filled rookie campaign. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is still disgruntled and rumors are flying that he will be traded to the AFC West, where Patrick Mahomes has already said that he would love to play against his golf partner. 

Soccer

The European Championship is happening in FIFA EURO 2020 right now, as I type this Repo Commentary. France is leading over Germany in the big match. In the Portugal/Hungary match, superstar Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player in European Championship Finals history to score 10 goals in the competition and set a record for most times appearing in the event. 

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing. We just finished an exciting, delayed French Open (only delayed a week). We are seeing Roger Federer play well at age 39, after coming back from surgery. However, Rafael Nadal, who basically owns the French Open, having won it 13 times, is also playing very well. No.2 ranked woman, Naomi Osaka, shocked the world with an outburst against compulsory media meetings, was fined and threatened, and withdrew from the tournament. Grand Slam tennis leaders gathered to fine her initially and determine if there should be further consequences for her outburst, but now pledge to address her concerns about the press and players’ mental states. She said that she has been battling anxiety and depression, and is very shy.  Most other tennis stars, while supporting her opinions, feel that she shouldn’t have let it get this far. Nike and other major sponsors have come out in support of Osaka. Here’s more news about the press conferences—they can be physically dangerous, as well as mentally dangerous. Petra Kvitova has withdrawn from the French Open due to an ankle injury sustained during her “post-match press requirements”.  In the semifinals, Djokovic was able to beat the unstoppable Nadal. He then went on to win a war in the Finals with Tsitsipas. It was Djokovic’s 19th major victory and his 2nd this year. He is now only one major victory behind Nadal and Federer, who are both at 20. Djokovic is also halfway to a Grand Slam, winning all 4 majors in the same year. No man has done that in more than 50 years. On the women’s side, a 31-seed Pavlyuchenkova lost to Krejclkova. Wimbledon begins in two weeks!

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion, undefeated Gonzaga.

Olympics:

The Olympic Torch began on its 121-day journey around Japan, leading up to the opening of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. A NY Times Op-Ed says that a sports event shouldn’t be a pandemic spreader and that they should cancel the Tokyo Olympics. A 4th wave of COVID-19 has hit Japan now, causing some to doubt whether the IOC will hold the games there. Japanese superstar tennis player, Naomi Osaka, has already threatened to boycott the Olympics in her own country, another not popular move by the No.1 women’s tennis player in the world. If they are held, USA Baseball has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which will re-introduce Baseball to the Olympics. Japan is still gambling on a successful Olympics, despite the dangers and costs associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The public angst for these Olympic Games is a sharp contrast to the optimism when Tokyo hosted the 1964 Olympics.

NHL:

The puck dropped on the asterisk season (last season) on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude the same season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans.

The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but was only 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic. 

This is this season’s odd configuration. The top 4 teams from each division made the playoffs, a total of 16 teams:

NORTH (all Canadian)-in this division, the top 2 seeds wound up losing to the 3rd and 4th seeds in Round One, and advance to Round Two. This is the same result as the one in the East Division.  

x-Toronto Maple Leafs-the Leafs lost in the first round of the Playoffs again, blowing a 3-1 series lead to ultimately lose 3 straight games to the heavy underdog, and rival, Canadiens. The Leafs, despite having a great season and team on paper, have not won a Playoff series since 2004. They have lost 8 straight series-clinching games, and are without a Stanley Cup since 1967. 

x-Edmonton Oilers-OUT

x-Winnipeg Jets-the 3rd seed swept the No.2 Oilers, 4-0 in the First Round. Now they will face the 4th seed Canadiens in Round Two. The were knocked out by the Canadiens. OUT

x-Montreal Canadiens-The No.4 Canadiens are in the Third Round (Semifinal), against the Golden Knights from the West Division.  

Calgary Flames

Ottawa Senators

Vancouver Canucks

WEST-the two highest seeds have moved on to the Second Round

x-Las Vegas Golden Knights-Golden Knights’ Ryan Graves has been suspended for 2 games in the Second Round by the NHL, for mugging an Avalanche player in front of the net, they call roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct. In the First Round, the Knights dispatched the Wild in a Game 7, while the Avs swept the Blues 4-0. The Avalanche won Game 1 over the Knights in the Second Round, despite the mugging. Eventually, the Golden Knights knocked out the Avalanche, and are now facing the surprising Canadiens from the North Division. The Knights won the first game of Round 3. 

x-Colorado Avalanche-OUT

x-Minnesota Wild-OUT

x-St. Louis Blues-OUT

Arizona Coyotes

LA Kings

San Jose Sharks

Anaheim Mighty Ducks

CENTRAL-here the first seed and 3rd seed proceeded to the Second Round. 

x-Carolina Hurricanes-the Hurricanes knocked the Predators out in the First Round 4-2. Then the rejuvenated Lightning (getting back their two stars from injury) swept the Hurricanes in Second Round. OUT

x-Florida Panthers-the Lightning knocked their Florida rival, Panthers, in the First Round 4-2. OUT

x-Tampa Bay Lightning-the No.3 Lightning are now battling the No.4 Islanders from the East Division, and have lost Game 1 in the Third Round.

x-Nashville Predators-OUT

Dallas Stars

Chicago Blackhawks

Detroit Red Wings

Columbus Blue Jackets

EAST -the 3rd and 4th seeds knocked out the first two seeds, and continued on to Round Two.  

x-Pittsburgh Penguins-the Islanders beat the Penguins 4-2 in the First Round. OUT

x-Washington Capitals-the Capitals were ousted by the Bruins 4-1 in the First Round. OUT

x-Boston Bruins-the Bruins eventually lost to the Islanders 4-2 in the Second Round. OUT

x-New York Islanders-the No.4 Islanders are now up against the No.3 Lightning from the South Division and are leading 1-0 in the Third Round.

NY Rangers

Philadelphia Flyers

New Jersey Devils

Buffalo Sabres

NBA:

Last year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs, when the pandemic shut the regular season down, with just a little over a month left. Late 6/4/20, the NBA reportedly approved a 22-team format to restart the season in the Summer. All games were played at the three venues at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl, starting 7/31. The modified playoff format for this asterisk season began on 10/12. In the end, the Miami Heat lost the Championship to the LA Lakers. 

The NBA season tipped off again on 12/22/20. But, it is totally different. Fan attendance differs in every stadium, depending on different factors, including state COVID-19 guidelines. We’ve played about 68 games so far in the regular season, and here are the current standings (top 8 of each conference make it, with seeding based on 5/11/21 standings, but seed 7 and seed 8 will be decided by a play-in tournament, which includes the current No.7-No.10 teams starting 5/18-5/21):

EASTERN CONFERENCE

x-Philadelphia 76ers-the 76ers knocked out the Wizards in Round 1 4-1. They are now tied with the Hawks in Round 2 2-2.

x-Brooklyn Nets-in Round 2, tied 2-2 with the No.3 Bucks.

x-Milwaukee Bucks-in Round 2, tied 2-2 with the No.2 Nets.

x-NY Knicks-ousted by the No.5 Hawks 4-1. 

x-Atlanta Hawks-in Round 2

x-Miami Heat-swept by the No.3 Bucks 4-0.

x-Boston Celtics-ousted by the No.2 Nets 4-1.

x-Washington Wizards-ousted by the No.1 76ers.

————————–

Charlotte Hornets

Indiana Pacers

Chicago Bulls

WESTERN CONFERENCE

x-Utah Jazz-in Round 2 against No.4 Clippers, tied 2-2.

x-Phoenix Suns-in Round 2 they swept the No.3 Nuggets 4-0.

x-Denver Nuggets-ousted quickly in Round 2 by the No.2 Suns.

x-LA Clippers-in Round 2 against No.1 Jazz, tied 2-2.

x-Dallas Mavericks-ousted in Round 1 by No.4 Clippers 4-3.

x-Portland Trail Blazers-ousted by No.3 Nuggets 4-2.

x-LA Lakers-ousted by the No.2 Suns in Round 1 4-2.

x-Memphis Grizzlies-ousted by No.1 Jazz 4-1.

—————————-

Golden State Warriors

San Antonio Spurs

New Orleans Pelicans

Sacramento Kings

Horse Racing:

So, this is strange. For the second time in my life, I visited a racetrack (Palm Beach Kennel Club, which actually isn’t running dogs anymore) to watch and bet on the Kentucky Derby. If that weren’t strange enough, a rookie in horse handicapping, I went up to the window for the race before the Kentucky Derby and did an ‘exacta box’ on the 3 and the 5. I don’t know why. I thought one of them was the favorite. Would you believe, they ended in a Dead Heat, actually tied! So, I won either way: 3/5 or 5/3. Very unusual event, especially at Churchill Downs. So, for me, what was cool was that I just took the winnings and bet on the horse I liked in the Kentucky Derby to WIN.  He was so good that it took at least 16 other horses to beat him!  The 147th “Run for the Roses” and first leg of the Triple Crown (unlike last year’s order due to COVID) was won by Medina Spirit.  It was another Bob Baffert horse (the guy can’t lose!) and you will see it ranked in my top-10 from the Repo Commentary a month before as No.6 favorite.  Yes, my horse, Rock Your World, came in a distant 17th.  There were still 3 horses worse than him.  But, wait, we have controversy for the 3rd time in 3 years!!! Two years ago, it was a late disqualification of the winner for ‘crowding’ the second-place finisher. Then, last year, the Kentucky Derby was held after the traditional second and third legs of the Triple Crown, due to COVID-19. Now, Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test for a PED. They are rechecking with a second blood sample, but it could invalidate the colt’s win, leaving the second place horse, Mandaloun, as the winner. And if you think it’s unlikely, Bob Baffert has been fined before for this offense. Baffert has admitted that Medina Spirit was treated with an ointment containing the steroid betamethasone. The steroid is allowed in horse racing, but the horse had more than double the allowed limit. Baffert has now been banned from entering any of his horses in races at the race track at Churchill Downs. Medina Spirit just arrived at Pimlico for Saturday’s running of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown Medina Spirit was cleared to run in the Preakness, despite the likely forfeit in the Derby. Unfortunately, if Mandaloun is now declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby, anyone who bet on him will not get any money, because wagering is paid out on “the order of finish as declared “official” by the stewards or judges at the track. However, the more than $1.8 million in winnings would be passed from Medina Spirit’s owners to Mandaloun’s owners. In the Derby’s 147-year history, only 3 races would have been won by the 2nd place horse, and we could see two of them in the last few years!

The top 10-ranked contenders, 2-3 weeks before the Kentucky Derby, were:

1.Concert Tour-just crushed the field at 2021 Rebel Stakes and is another Bob Baffert trained horse

2.Essential Quality-just won 2021 Southwest Stakes

3.Life is Good-just won 2021 San Felipe, another Bob Baffert trained horse

4.Hot Rod Charlie-just won 2021 Louisiana Derby

5.Known Agenda-just won 2021 Florida Derby

6.Medina Spirit-came in 2nd at 2021 San Felipe, another Bob Baffert horse

7.Greatest Honour-came in 3rd 2021 Florida Derby

8.Soup and Sandwich-came in 2nd 2021 Florida Derby

9.Helium-just won 2021 Tampa Bay Derby

10.Like the King-just won 2021 Jeff Ruby Stakes

Auto Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. His dad, Bill Elliott, won the championship in 1988. They became the 3rd father-son duo to win the title, joining the Petty’s (Lee and Richard) and Jarrett’s (Ned and Dale).  In 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead.  In 2018, the winner was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead.  Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017.  The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:

02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon

02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell

02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell

02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron

03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson

03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.

03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney

03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano

04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-Martin Truex Jr.

04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Bowman

04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-Keselowski

05/02/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas-Kyle Busch

05/09/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington-Martin Truex Jr.

05/16/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover-

05/23/21 NASCAR Cup Series at COTA-

Formula One began 2020 with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. F1 is cracking down on flexible rear wings, amid suspicions that some teams are bending the rules. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:

03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen

04/18/21-Italy-Verstappen edged Hamilton

05/02/21-Portugal-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/09/21-Spain-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/23/21-Monaco-

06/06/21-Azerbaijan-

06/13/21-Canada-

06/27/21-France-

07/04/21-Austria-

07/18/21-Great Britain-

08/02/21-Hungary-

08/29/21-Belgium-

09/05/21-Netherlands-

09/12/21-Italy-

09/26/21-Russia-

10/03/21-Singapore-

10/10/21-Japan-

10/24/21-United States

10/31/21-Mexico-

11/07/21-Brazil-

11/21/21-Australia-

12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-

12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-

IndyCar Racing circuit (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:

04/18/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park-Alex Palou

04/25/21-St. Petersburg Street Course-Josef Newgarden

05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 1-Scott Dixon

05/02/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 2-Pato O’Ward

05/15/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1

05/30/21-Indy 500

06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 1

06/13/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 2

06/20/21-Road America

07/04/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

07/11/21-Toronto Exhibition Place

08/08/21-Nashville Street Course

08/14/21-Indianapolis GP 2

08/21/21-Gateway Motorsports Park

09/11/21-Portland International Raceway

09/19/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

09/26/21-Streets of Long Beach

Travel News:

By now, you have heard about the massive increase in domestic US travel, particularly an exodus to Florida. People couped up for more than a year by COVID-19, some still under tight State restrictions, are venturing out to get rid of the cabin fever. Hotels in some areas are at capacity, gasoline prices are rising due to increased demand, and rental cars are virtually impossible to find. The rideshare companies have noticed too and have more frequently applied “surge pricing”. So, I’ve seen here in Florida that typical Uber and Lyft rides are much more expensive. Airlines, like American and United, have begun investing in electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which are seen as the next big aviation breakthrough. The aircraft are being called 
“air taxis”. The aircraft will likely be used for package deliveries before commercial passenger flights. Eventually, they may also operate without pilots. Electric vehicle startup, Lordstown Motors, has seen its CEO and CFO resign. The company said in an SEC filing last week that it could run out of money unless additional funding is secured. On Tuesday, the US and EU reached a deal to end the Airbus/Boeing trade dispute. An off-duty flight attendant became unruly Monday on a flight and attempted to open the cabin emergency exit, before being subdued by other passengers. More tourists are being caught with concealed guns at Disney World in Orlando. 

Health News:  

As of this evening (6/14), globally, more than 3,800,000 people have died from COVID-19.  More than 176,000,000 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 33.4 million people. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 600,000. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (487,401), India (374,305), Mexico (230,150), Peru (188,708), and UK (128,171). 

The news about COVID-19 has been mostly positive in the US over recent months. The 3 vaccines continue to work well against every variant, and the number of Americans who have gotten a shot continues to rise. But, not all the news is rosy and we must not slack in our efforts to battle the virus. First, the pace of vaccinations has slowed, and a substantial share of Americans, almost one-third, remains hesitant about getting a shot. These unvaccinated Americans are vulnerable to COVID-19 outbreaks and to potentially serious symptoms. Second, the Delta variant, which seems to be more contagious and more severe than earlier versions of the virus, is spreading rapidly within the US, after first being identified in India. It now accounts for about 10% of cases. Third, these two pieces of news help to explain why the number of new cases of COVID-19 in the US has STOPPED FALLING. The Delta variant is believed to be partly the reason why case counts have risen in several African countries, Russia, Ontario, etc. 

Novavax announced Monday that a clinical trial of its vaccine in the US and Mexico has found an efficacy rate of about 90%.

NYC will hold a ticker tape parade on July 7th for healthcare heroes and essential workers who battled COVID-19.  

The US FDA’s landmark decision to approve Biogen’s Alzheimer’s treatment, the first new drug for the disease in almost 20 years, could open the door for more therapies. But, hold on, 3 FDA advisory panel members have quit in protest to the approval. Lawmakers are also criticizing the drug’s $56,000/year price tag. 

Scientists from Tokyo Medical and Dental University have developed earmuffs for use in measuring blood alcohol levels. The earmuffs could be used as an alternative to breathalyzers. The earmuffs collect vapors released through the skin of a person’s ears and monitor ethanol. 

Animal News:

No doubt, you have been hearing about the Cape Cod man who was diving for lobsters and was supposedly swallowed by a humpback whale. He allegedly thrashed around in the throat of the whale, forcing it to surface and spit him out, the modern equivalent of the story of Jonah and the Whale. Many marine biologists are questioning the story’s validity, as humpback whales typically eat tiny plankton, so wouldn’t accidentally eat a human. Whales are also quite intelligent and have shown a general interest and calm around humans. Yet, he is sticking to his story that he was in the mouth of the whale and not in the stomach, for about 40 seconds. The man, from his hospital bed, said that he would like Matt Damon to play him in a movie about the incident. The commercial lobster diver actually has had a few near-death experiences with large great white sharks in the same area off Cape Cod, and survived a deadly plane crash in Costa Rica in 2001. CDC is temporarily banning dogs from some countries because of the risk of rabies. Gray wolf pups have been found in Colorado for the first time since 1940s. Florida’s ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced the birth of a southern white rhino. A behemoth 98-foot-long dinosaur has been confirmed to be the largest ever found in Australia and among the 15 largest specimens worldwide. San Francisco Zoo’s Cobby, the oldest male chimpanzee in a US zoo, has died at age 63. Florida manatees are seeing one of the highest mortality rates in years. A new study shows that dogs are born with an innate ability to understand human cues. Puppies were able to take directions from humans without any training. A herd of wild elephants in China has captured the hearts of many around the world. The elephants have already journeyed 300 miles and are now approaching a large city. Local governments have used roadblocks and food to try to shift the elephants’ course and have evacuated residential areas. I’m still watching that video of the teenage girl who fought off and basically threw a bear off of her wall in her California backyard to protect her small dogs. Now, there is a new post-COVID-19 issue: as COVID slows in America, dogs face THEIR new normal of not having their humans around 24/7. 

Entertainment News:

Beniffer is back! At the British Academy Television Awards, “Save Me Too” won Best Drama and “Inside No.9” won Best Scripted Comedy. Mahraganat in a new underground music genre that is taking the nightclubs of Egypt by storm. RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK movie turned 40-years-old on Monday. Last Friday, FERRIS BUEHLER movie turned 40. CNN anchor, Christiane Amanpour has revealed that she has ovarian cancer. A Beauty and the Beast limited musical series is in the works at Disney+.  Lisa Banes, the GONE GIRL actress, has died following a hit-and-run accident. Jessica Biel says that she didn’t mean to have “a secret COVID baby”. Michael Costello of Project Runway says he had “thoughts of suicide” after alleged bullying of Chrissy Teigen. The Pekingese won top dog at the Westminster Dog Show. The cast of Scrubs reunited on Celebrity Family Feud. Is it me, or has TV suddenly gone wild with remakes of old gameshows? Below Deck Sailing had its season finale on Monday. There will be a two-part reunion show(s) still. Meanwhile, Below Deck Mediterranean begins, with Captain Sandy at the helm of a 180+ foot motor yacht. I don’t think she has ever run into a dock like Captain Glen did with the sailing yacht. Ooops, it has been revealed that Anne Hathaway’s role in THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA was offered to Rachel McAdams, who turned it down 3 times. Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters says he turned down a “huge” Facebook offer to use a song. 

Technology & Space News:

The Juno spacecraft performed a flyby of Jupiter’s moon Ganymede. I can’t remember which ones they told us in 2001 or 2010 SPACE ODYSSEY to leave alone. A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced 5 bills that would significantly reduce the influence and independence of major technology companies by preventing them from covertly promoting their own products on their platforms, limiting their ability to buy up smaller rivals and giving customers greater access and control over their personal data. If passed, the bills would represent the largest overhaul of monopoly law in decades. Blue Origin is holding an auction to fly into space with Jeff Bezos. The original source code for the World Wide Web will be sold at Sotheby’s, as part of a non-fungible token (NFT). The code was invented in 1989 by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee. It is considered one of the most significant inventions since the printing press in 15th Century in Germany by many. The digitally-signed Ethereum blockchain non-fungible token (NFT), a one-of-a-kind digital asset which records ownership, includes the original source code, an animated visualization, a letter written by Berners-Lee, and a digital poster of the full code from the original files. NFTs have exploded in recent months, particularly at auction.  A digital-only artwork by American artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, sold for nearly $70 million at Christie’s in March. 

US News:

New Hampshire has become the 11th State to exempt forgiven Paycheck Protection Program Loans from borrowers’ corporate taxes. This is really a ‘hot potato’ issue, as the PPP Loans were never meant to be taxed as income, per Congress in the Consolidated Appropriations Act.  Right now, 19 states tax forgiven PPP Loans, either by including them as taxable income or disallowing deductions for business expenses made with the loans. 7 of those states currently have bills introduced in their legislatures to exclude PPP loans from taxation. Some of the other states are just weird. For instance, Wisconsin doesn’t want to lose ALL of the potential tax revenue, so those businesses that got PPP loans in the Spring and Summer of 2020 (so-called “first draw” loans) won’t have to pay taxes on them and they’ll be able to deduct expenses that were paid for with PPP from their state taxes. But, those that got PPP ‘second-draw’ loans, they are expected to be taxed.  Democratic legislators are reportedly exploring a one-time “patriot tax” on wealthy individuals who are multimillionaires. It would be a 2.5% surcharge on wealth between $50 million and $100 million, and 5% on wealth above $100 million. Those taxed could pay back the tax over 5 years. Research suggests that the government could raise about $450 billion through such a tax. The US federal tax system is based on Income, not Wealth. As I mention below, despite a 5.5% unemployment rate, there are not enough restaurant workers for reopened restaurants after COVID-19. Other industries are also suffering. Some municipal pools have had to close for the summer, because they can’t find enough lifeguards. Another report shows that some workers have gotten so used to working from home and the lifestyle that offers, that rather than return to reopened offices, they are just quitting. A disgruntled fire hydrant factory worker shot his co-workers and then himself. A cashier in a Georgia Big Bear supermarket was gunned down, after asking a customer to wear a mask. A retired deputy who intervened was also shot. The man had refused to wear a mask, walked out of the store, then reentered with a gun and shot the cashier in the head. The former deputy was working security in the store and returned fire at the assailant who was also shot. The deputy was fortunately wearing a bullet-proof vest.  On Sunday, Hawaii-based F-22s were scrambled on a request from the FAA, but neither the military or FAA are saying why. A pair of F-22 Raptors were launched on an alert scramble and did an “irregular patrol” due to an “incident”. A third F-22 and a supporting KC-135 were also launched to join the pair of F-22s. The FAA typically requests a scramble of fighters for potential security situations aboard airliners, to provide eyes-on to stricken aircraft, or to investigate unidentified aircraft, among other things. Texas power grid is straining again. 

Bankruptcy:

In 2020, restaurant and food service industry sales fell by $240 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry 2021 report.  Although more than 27,000 restaurants have gone out of business permanently during the pandemic, the restaurants who have survived, with help from the PPP loans and state grants, are seeing a spike in demand, particularly here in Florida. The new problem is that these restaurants are having trouble hiring qualified people. In Florida, some restaurants are offering signing bonuses, to attract new employees. Some restaurants, like Duffy’s Sports Bar down here, have learned that laying off 3,500 employees and shutting down all their restaurants until all restrictions were lifted, while being easier and maybe less costly during 2020, is becoming a problem for them now. It turns out that many of their employees have permanently moved on or are on Unemployment still and making more money on that than they were making in wages. As Unemployment benefits continue to be rolled on, the conundrum continues.  I have heard that Florida is now going to require those receiving unemployment benefits to list the 5 places they interviewed with that week. That, may push people in that industry to return. We had a shooting on Thursday, nearby in Royal Palm Beach at a Publix, which resulted in 3 deaths. A US mall owner, Washington Prime Group out of Columbus, OH, with more than 100 properties, has filed for bankruptcy. I just read an interesting article on why many shelves at stores are bare or items are out of stock. The first reason is that the pandemic lockdown shut down factories that produced the goods, and they are slowly opening (if they didn’t go out of business) and gradually increasing production. The second reason is that the shutdown of those factories reduced the demand for the raw products that go into those items to be produced, which were also shut down or went out of business because of the pandemic. The third reason is called Just In Time (JIT) manufacturing, a concept made popular by Toyota back in the 70s and since adopted by other industries worldwide. Although it started with autos, it extended to consumer products and market machinery for food, fashion, pharmaceuticals, etc. It was intended to keep the supply chains and stockpiles of all items lean enough, so that industries could be nimble for changes in demand, without waste. Unfortunately, it left many manufacturers and retailers susceptible to shortages. Ironically, one area feeling the biggest impact is the automobile industry, which started the concept, as many headlines trumpet the shortage of chips, a crucial aspect of building and programming modern automobiles. Although automobiles are receiving the biggest headlines, this chip shortage probably affects more than 100 industries, as computer chips are involved in many other items (which includes food, rental cars, lumber, home construction, pet food, computers, printers, phones, etc. 

International News:

Using a compromised encrypted device network, a multinational sting operation resulted in hundreds of arrests and the seizure of several tons of illegal drugs. Two trains collided in Sindh, Pakistan, killing at least 63 people. Waddani, led by Abdirahamn Mohamed Abdullahi, won the most seats in the Somaliland parliamentary election.  A new government has been formed in Israel, with Naftali Bennett becoming Prime Minister, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12-year tenure. China’s Navy is now the largest in the world, with approximately 350 ships, versus the US Navy’s 293 ships. However, if you go by average size of ship, the US Navy’s 15,700 tons average per ship is much greater than the China Navy’s 5,715 tons average per ship. Staying with China news, China just sent 28 aircraft near Taiwan in its largest military exercise, since the Cold War. US President Biden is preparing for his summit with Russian President Putin, where he intends to confront Putin about the incarceration and near assassination of Putin’s outspoken opponent, among other things. Biden previewed some of his sentiments in his recent meeting with NATO, where he tried to reassure the organization of the US protection and involvement. In an interview, Putin likened the Russian crackdown on dissidents to the US Capitol arrests of rioters. 

Florida:

We had a water advisory here in West Palm Beach last week, due to a toxin in the drinking water supply. Officials advised all individuals to not drink the water, that water purifiers wouldn’t help, including refrigerator door water systems. They recommended that everyone buy bottled water. Of course, Floridians just need a Tropical Storm, pandemic, or computer hack to be an excuse for hording supplies. New COVID-19 cases jumped 14.9% in Florida last week (ending Sunday) and variant cases are surging. Part of it could be vaccine complacency and part could be all of the vacationers now visiting Florida. Florida now ranks 3rd among the states where coronavirus was spreading the fastest on a per-person basis. In the latest week, across the US, COVID-19 new cases dropped 28.3% from the week before. The State Governor of Florida found a way to deal with the increases, and ordered that Florida no longer release daily COVID-19 case and death figures. A titanic clash is brewing between Florida Gov. DeSantis and the cruise industry, as it prepares to restart cruises from Florida. The issue is that DeSantis is firm about barring the industry from requiring that passengers be vaccinated. The cruise industry has been shut down for 15 months, putting some 600,000 Florida jobs on hold and costing the industry $billions. The clash will be soon, as the first US cruise since March 2020 is scheduled to leave Fort Lauderdale, FL in two weeks. 

If you wind up getting down to this area of Florida (West Palm Beach), please come to one of my shows. I have been singing regularly Friday and Saturday nights at Agora Mediterranean Kitchen in Northwood, from 6p-9p. I call it my “Men In Black” show, for which I am dressed in black and singing some 40 songs from Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Neil Diamond (artists who frequently wore black). It’s been a lot of fun for me and the crowd (oh and there’s a belly-dancer!)! I sang 6/5, 6/11, 6/12, and will sing 6/18 and 6/19 as well. 

Jokes and Such:

Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J

52. I couldn’t believe the highway department called my dad a thief.

But when I got home, the signs were all there.

53.Why did the cowboy get a wiener dog?

He wanted to get a long little doggie.

54. Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Empire State Building?

Of course! The Empire State Building can’t jump.

55. What did the duck say when it bought some lipstick?

“Put it on my bill.”

56. George Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Matthew McConaughey get together to make a movie.

Clooney says, “I’ll direct.”

DiCaprio says, “I’ll act.”

McConaughey says, “I’ll write, I’ll write, I’ll write.”

57. A horse walks into a bar.

The bartender says, “Hey!”

The horse replies, “Sure.”

58. I googled “Rorshach test.”

But for some reason, all that came up were pictures of my parents fighting.

59. What do we want?

Low-flying airplane noises!

When do we want them?

Nnnnneeeeeeeeeeoooooooooow!

60. I tried to win a suntanning competition.

But all I got was bronze.

61. How much space will be freed in the EU after Brexit?

Approximately 1 GB.

62. Why don’t seagulls fly over the bay?

Because then they’d be bagels.I promise that they will continue to be corny or cornier, unless you give me some good quasi-clean jokes for adults…

Repo Commentary-05/13/21

It is Day 416 (on 05/13) since the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the day that the WHO declared it a ‘pandemic’ (3/11/20). 

I hope that you and your families are staying healthy and safe. In my opinion, it is worth it to be vaccinated. I am alarmed at how many ‘anti-vaccine’ people there are, refusing to have one on ‘principal.’ Maybe it’s a fear of the side-effects or maybe it goes back to the debate about childhood vaccines causing various illnesses later, like autism.  I have no explanation for the 9 million people in the US who actually went and got the 1st shot of the 2 shot vaccines, but then did not go back for the 2nd shot in the window they were supposed to, wrongly believing that the 1st shot was sufficient to immunize them.  I received my two shots of the Pfizer vaccine on 3/20/21 and 4/10/21, so I was effectively 96% immunized on 4/24/21. I was very happy to receive them. Like many, I had much more of a reaction to the 2nd shot than to the 1stshot. The 1st shot introduces the virus to the body, but the 2nd one is the one which teaches the body how to fight the disease. So, your immunological response to the 2nd shot is intentionally stronger and some people suffer some of the symptoms in varying degrees. I had the headache for a couple of days, hot flashes, and extreme fatigue for 3 days, the 2 days later, for another 2 days. 

I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo. It is now available. I think you will find it a very informative, complete, and an entertaining version of distanced learning, with my usual humor and my experience sprinkled across some 149 PowerPoint presentations within a new state-of-the-art Teachable system, with hours of my voiceovers, as well as 10 videos, and an exam. The course has international accreditation from Chartered Institute For Securities and Investment (CISI).  I suspect many companies have already budgeted to subscribe and relieve themselves of the burden of training their people in Repo, and leave it to one of the OG Repo dinosaurs. Lol. But, first, check out my friend, Professor Moorah Choudhry’s, FREE 30-minute Primer on Repo (at the same address), which introduces my course. By the way, I spent about 30 minutes last week answering questions that one of the students had, all included in the course.

So, I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. 

  • I am teaching the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals.
  • I am consulting with 2 large firms about repo issues and business plans. 
  • I am sharing my opinion and expertise with industry periodicals in articles, like the recent Global Investor Group/ISF article. 
  • I am consulting with an electronic trading platform. 
  • I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums. 
  • I  was asked to be the panel moderator for a panel on trends in Financial Technology, pre- and post-Pandemic, for a virtual conference held by Securities Finance Times on May 6. There were about 400 people signed up for the Zoom conference on Financial Technology. I think it went really well.
  • I was interviewed by my former colleague, one time COO of Cantor Fitzgerald, for his wildly popular (top 5% in the world) Apple podcast “Whispers and Bricks”. I think it was the latest chapter published online and on LinkedIn. Here at: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jeff-kidwell-repo-expert-and-movie-buff/id1553840938?i=1000515889833

Kidwell Consultants, LLC is available FOR HIRE as a consultant. So, if you need my Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeff@kidwellconsultants.com) or (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  

My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures, to make it better! 

Holidays or Events (05/13):

  • Donate a Day’s Wages to Charity Day
  • International Awareness Day
  • International Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Awareness Day
  • International Nurses Day
  • International Receptionists’ Day
  • National Numeracy Day (United Kingdom)
  • National Fibromylagia Awareness Day
  • Limerick Day
  • National Nutty Fudge Day
  • National Third Shift Workers Day
  • National Odometer Day
  • National Root Canal Appreciation Day
  • World Facility Management Day
  • Rotuma Day (Rotuma)

Some Famous People Born on (05/13):

  • 1911-Maxine Sullivan, American singer and actress
  • 1914-Joe Louis, American boxer
  • 1922-Bea Arthur, American actress and singer
  • 1931-Jim Jones, American cult leader of the Peoples Temple
  • 1939-Harvey Keitel, American actor
  • 1941-Ritchie Valens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist (died in plane crash in 1959 with friends Big Bopper and Buddy Holly)
  • 1943-Mary Wells, American singer-songwriter
  • 1950-Bobby Valentine, American baseball player and manager
  • 1950-Stevie Wonder, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer
  • 1961-Dennis Rodman, American basketball player, wrestler, and actor
  • 1964-Stephen Colbert, American comedian and talk show host
  • 1966-Darius Rucker, American singer-songwriter and guitarist
  • 1969-Buckethead, American guitarist and songwriter
  • 1986-Robert Pattinson, English actor
  • 1989-P.K. Subban, Canadian ice hockey player

Daily Weird Facts:

There are more than 400 distinct phobias well recognized by psychologists. They include ‘papaphobia’, which is fear of the Pope, and ‘phobophobia’, which is the fear of having a phobia. 

Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”—Nelson Mandela

Currency and Commodity Markets:

Oil prices closed at:

$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18 

$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18

$48.63 on 01/07/19 

$73.77/barrel on 4/29

$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20

$35.92/barrel on 3/11

$27.15/barrel on 3/18

$24.90/barrel on 4/01

$31.80/barrel on 4/12

$28.31/barrel on 4/17

$20.03/barrel on 4/27 

$35.69/barrel on 5/20

$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21

$66.34/barrel on 03/05

$61.30/barrel on 04/01

$63.68/barrel on 05/13

Oil prices have bounced back a little, keeping the price of gasoline in the US near a two-year high. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station fell 3 cents in the past 2 weeks, to $2.76/gallon. Hoarding due to the pipeline event has caused northern Florida gasoline prices to soar. 

One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:

104.80 on 02/07/20

99.23 on 03/11/20

103.55 on 12/16/20

110.63 on 04/01/21

108.61 on 04/28/21

109.47 on 05/13/21

One Euro was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.1426 

12/06/19 at $1.1688

03/11/20 at $1.1937

05/04 at $1.0903

12/16/20 at $1.2196

02/04 at $1.2625

04/01 at $1.1774

04/28 at $1.2123

05/13 at $1.2077

One British Pound was trading on:

12/24/18 at $1.2655 

12/06/19 at $1.3819

02/07/20 at $1.3574

03/24 at $1.2231

12/16/20 at $1.3494

02/16 at $1.3903

04/01 at $1.3832

04/28 at $1.3942

05/13 at $1.4045

One USD versus the CAD at:

1.3442 on 12/24/18

1.2530 on 12/06/19

1.2390 on 01/17/20

1.3540 on 03/18

1.2752 on 12/16/20

1.2548 on 04/01

1.2315 on 04/28

1.2160 on 05/13

For Gold prices, I have decided to put this in list form, but maintain a trimmed list of dates with prices.

10/02/19 $1498.70/ounce 

03/11/20 $1,641/ounce

07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce

11/30/20 $1,774.00 

01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00

03/05/21 $1,698.70

04/01/21 $1,730.00

04/28/21 $1,782.20

05/13/21 $1,826.20

Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):

$8,185.21 on 7/25/18 

$6,350 on 10/5/18

$3,774.97 on 12/24/18

$3,774.97 on 01/07/19 

$3,598.90 on 01/16 

$3,421.10 on 02/06 

$3,826.44 on 02/26

$8,100.00 on 05/16

$7,215.79 on 05/17

$9,088.59 on 06/18

$11,919.30 on 06/25

$9,790.37 on 07/24

$10,183.90 on 09/10

$8,235.46 on 10/02

$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20

$9,793.18 on 02/07/20

$7,871.60 on 03/11/20

$5,216.64 on 03/18/20

$6,728.03 on 03/24/20

$7,748.29 on 04/27/20

$8,775.36 on 05/04/20

$9,794.46 on 06/04/20

$10,849.00 on 07/27/20

$15,160.90 on 11/10/20

$19,411.50 on 11/30/20

$20,665.10 on 12/16/20

$31,592.20 on 01/04/21

$36,433.00 on 01/13/21

$36,607.50 on 02/04/21

$48,526.90 on 02/16/21

$58,093.71 on 02/21/21

$43,170.01 on 02/28/21

$49,207.43 on 03/05/21

$58,979.60 on 04/01/21

$54,886.50 on 04/28/21

$54,242.00 on 05/12/21

After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  On 3/13/20, it had cratered at $3,867.  Elon Musk has been fueling some controversy and volatility among cryptocurrencies lately, taking a jab Dogecoin on Saturday Night Live, and now having his company, Tesla, no longer accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. His assertion is that he has concerns over the tremendous use of fossil fuels in the mining of bitcoin. This is a reversal of his stance from February, when the company made a $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin. Needless to say, it is making Bitcoin’s price even more volatile, down as much as 17% after the announcement. I did some research on how bitcoin is mined and the massive computer power and energy required to compete in the mining market to solve the complicated mathematical logarithms, and it is huge!  Some people point to this as the potential ‘undermining’ or limit of cryptocurrencies.  The IEA estimated that it takes about as much electricity, roughly 22-22.9 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions a year, to mine bitcoin as the electricity the entire country of The Netherlands used in 2019, and the emissions made by Jordan and Sri Lanka in 2019.  About 70% of bitcoin mining is done by Chinese companies. It all boils down to how they produce that electricity, and while some is done through hydroelectric dams (which is eco-friendly), a large portion is done by burning coal, which is extremely eco-harmful. Musk apparently realized the dichotomy of advancing eco-friendly electric cars, but promoting potential eco-unfriendly bitcoin mining. 

Brexit:

European Parliament has finally voted to give the EU approval for a Brexit Trade Deal. The vote is the formal end of a Brexit process that began almost 5 years ago and still has significant mutual mistrust. The vote was overwhelming, 660 in favor, 5 against, and 32 abstaining. Despite the overwhelming approval, the Parliament expressed considerable concerns about the trustworthiness of the current British government to carry out its side of the Brexit bargain, including the trade deal just approved. The deal did not address key issues, such as financial services, foreign policy, and security policy. The Brexit deal is kind of like a Divorce Settlement Agreement, for a marriage that was nearly 45 years long. The deal has cost 2 British PMs their office, and they are now on their 3rd in the last 5 years. One of the thorny issues that remains for PM Boris Johnson, is the border between Northern Ireland (part of Britain) and the Republic of Ireland (which is a member of the EU). In related news, due to Johnson’s Brexit moves regarding Ireland, Northern Ireland’s Arlene Foster has quit as conservative party leader. 

Global Financial News:

I misread this news report the first time and thought it said the President Biden was releasing his tax reports (unlike his predecessor). It is way more alarming than that though!  Banks and lawmakers are pushing back on a proposal by President Biden to give the IRS access to banking records to spot discrepancies in tax reports, citing privacy issues and a negative effect on bank-customer relationships. I think that would be a dramatic change. I think currently that the IRS is privy to citizens moving $10,000 or more in and out of bank accounts, but not the rest of activity. The Federal Reserve is reportedly pressing major banks to provide more information on what steps they are taking to safeguard their balance sheets from climate risks. Several large banks have reportedly joined a pilot program to share data on customers’ accounts in an effort to extend credit to customer who lack credit history. The program could lead to banks relying less on credit scores to determine creditworthiness. US corporations are concerned about President Biden’s comments about paying for some of the stimulus package(s) with increasing corporate tax rates. Now, 3 Democratic senators have introduced legislation that would make carried interest profits subject to the same tax rates as ordinary income. Broadridge has finalized its $2.5 billion acquisition of Itiviti, which provides trading technology, including network services an trade order and execution management systems. I learned a lot about Broadridge from my fellow panelist in last week’s SFT Fintech Symposium. I didn’t realize how large the company is and how many firms it has acquired. Staying on fintech, the repeal by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s “true lender” rule will probably create uncertainty for fintechs, who rely on bank partnerships to facilitate their lending business. The anti-monopoly fine pushed Alibaba to its first operating loss as a public company. The US House Committee on Financial Services convened for its 3rd hearing last Thursday on the GameStop saga, examining whether new legislation around ‘short-selling’ was necessary to protect retail investors from themselves.

US Market News:

At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. The specter of inflation is spooking the stock market, even though the Fed said the price spike is temporary.  

Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates):

05/12/21  33,587.66

03/31/21  32,981.55

01/13/21   31,060.47

12/31/20   30,606.48

12/01/20   29,823.92

11/09/20   29,157.97

07/24/20   26,469.89

07/22/20   27,005.84

06/26/20   25,015.55

06/08/20   27,572.44

6/03/20     26,269.89

5/27/20     25,548.27

4/17/20     24,242.49

3/23/20    18,591.93

3/03/20     25,917.41

2/12/20     29,551.42 record high

S&P 500 has closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2,885.58 

12/26/18 at 2,467.70 

12/06/19 at 3,145.91

02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high

03/23/20 at 2,237.40

12/15/20 at 3,647.49

01/13/21 at 3,809.84

02/03/21 at 3,830.17

02/16/21 at 3,923.59

03/05/21 at 3,841.94

03/31/21 at 3,972.89

05/12/21 at 4,063.04

S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record on 12/8 of 3,702.25, then backed off, then shot higher again to a new record 02/16.  It has continued to be up at new record highs. 

Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 7,788.45

12/26/18 at 6,554.36

12/06/19 at 8,656.07

02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high 

03/23/20 at 6,860.67

06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!

12/15/20 at 12.505.06

01/13/21 at 13,128.95 

02/03/21 at 13,610.54

02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high

03/05/21 at 12,920.15

03/31/21 at 13,246.87

05/12/21 at 13,031.68

The US Treasury market has seen yields come off a little. 

2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):

10/5/18 at 2.88%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.61%

02/06/20 at 1.44%

03/11/20 at 0.50%

03/17/20 at 0.47%

03/23/20 at 0.28% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.16% historic low

07/24/20 at 0.14% new historic low

12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!

01/04/21 at 0.11%

01/13/21 at 0.14%

02/03/21 at 0.11%

02/16/21 at 0.11%

03/05/21 at 0.14%

03/31/21 at 0.16%

05/12/21 at 0.16%

3 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 2.99%

12/18/18 at 2.64%

01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)

12/06/19 at 1.64%

02/06/20 at 1.43%

03/11/20 at 0.58%

03/17/20 at 0.54%

03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!

05/10/20 at 0.21%

07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!

11/09/20 at 0.25%

12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!

01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!

01/13/21 at 0.22%

02/03/21 at 0.17%

02/16/21 at 0.17%

03/05/21 at 0.32%

03/31/21 at 0.35%

05/12/21 at 0.35%

5 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.07%

12/18/18 at 2.65%

12/06/19 at 1.67%

02/07/20 at 1.45%

03/11/20 at 0.66%

03/17/20 at 0.56%

03/23/20 at 0.38% 

03/26/20 at 0.51%

03/31/20 at 0.37%

07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!

12/15/20 at 0.37%

01/04/21 at 0.36%

01/13/21 at 0.48%

02/03/21 at 0.46%

02/16/21 at 0.42%

03/05/21 at 0.79%

03/31/21 at 0.92%

05/12/21 at 0.87%

7 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.18%

12/18/18 at 2.74%

12/06/19 at 1.78%

02/06/20 at 1.56%

03/11/20 at 0.78%

03/17/20 at 0.91%

03/23/20 at 0.63% 

03/26/20 at 0.72%

03/31/20 at 0.55%

07/24/20 at 0.44%

11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.64%

01/04/21 at 0.64%

01/13/21 at 0.80%

02/03/21 at 0.81%

02/16/21 at 0.76%

03/05/21 at 1.23%

03/31/21 at 1.40%

05/12/21 at 1.34%

10 YEAR NOTES closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.23%

12/18/18 at 2.82%

09/09/19 at 1.83%

10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!

12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!

02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!

03/11/20 at 0.82%

03/17/20 at 1.02% and back up again

03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again

07/24/20 at 0.59%

11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 0.92%

01/04/21 at 0.93%

01/13/21 at 1.10%

02/03/21 at 1.15%

02/16/21 at 1.09%

03/05/21 at 1.56%

03/31/21 at 1.74%

05/12/21 at 1.69%

30 YEAR BONDS closed on:

10/5/18 at 3.40%

12/18/18 at 3.07%

07/24/19 at 2.58%

09/10/19 at 2.11%

12/06/19 at 2.29%

02/06/20 at 2.11%

03/11/20 at 1.30%

03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!

03/23/20 at 1.33% back down

07/24/20 at 1.23%

11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level

12/15/20 at 1.65%

01/04/21 at 1.66%

01/13/21 at 1.82%

02/03/21 at 1.92%

02/16/21 at 1.84%

03/05/21 at 2.28%

03/31/21 at 2.41%

05/12/21 at 2.40%

Housing News:

The price of steel is up 145% and lumber price is up 126%.  Compliance attorneys, mortgage industry lobbyists, and senators are urging the CFPB to “reconsider” a delay of the General Qualified Mortgage Final Rule that the CFPB announced. They want the Rule implemented as intended and commit to a longer-term approach to monitoring the broader housing market implications of mortgage lending, as proposed under the rule. It took a lot of time for the industry to get to the Final Rule, and now new changes at the agency imply that there will be changes to the Rule. Quicken brand will be officially retired on July 31st. The South is poised to see $1 trillion in home sales in 2021, according to HousingWire. Mortgage Applications have jumped 30.8% for the year, as the interest rate fell to 2.94% for a 30-year mortgage in April. However, for the months of March and April, applications were down 9%. According to the MBA, mortgage credit availability loosened up in April by 2.2%. Mortgage forbearance has dropped to 4.36%. Housing prices continue to rise in the latest data, as supply continues to dwindle. Better.com is planning to go public via SPAC, with valuation about $7.7 billion. Seattle tops the list of best metro cities for real estate agents. 

Repo/Securities Financing News:                              

Okay, I won’t run another ad for it, since I ran it at the top of this Repo Commentary.  Please just take a look at: https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo

Fidelity has launched an Agent Lending program, Fidelity Agency Lending, becoming a full-fledged securities lending agent. For years, the behemoth money fund had been lending some of its own securities in a small program, but now it will offer those services to other beneficial owners. It is unusual to see a new agent lender enter the space now, with spreads at historic lows and regulations hampering the industry. Fidelity reportedly will have digital platform displays with enhanced automation, artificial intelligence, and other financial technology tools to maximize returns and asset utilization. Sharegain launched BetterLend. The new German green bond is eligible in Eurex repo and clearing. My buddy, “Z” (Robert Zekraus) started a new role, heading up Pirum’s Americas business. Speaking of Pirum, a communication add-on to Pirum and HIS Markit’s trade reconciliation, collateralo and margin lending Joint SFTR solution will enable counterpart communication, helping UK and European trades run more smoothly, per Securities Finance Times. 

Securities Finance Industry Conferences

This section is undergoing renovation. I am working on new sources of virtual conferences, networking, and symposiums, rather than continuing to run the 25-30 annual physical conferences for the industry, which are no longer being held, during the pandemic (and may not be all held in the future, after the pandemic). I want to keep you informed on virtual conferences, so that you can take advantage of them (like last week’s SFT Fintech Symposium, in which I was a moderator, and there were 400-500 participants on CVent. 

Federal Reserve News:

The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. 

The next FOMC meetings are: 06/16/21, 07/28/21, 09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in.  

The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.

The Federal Reserve is increasing attention to banks’ actions in phasing out LIBOR, reportedly calling on the banks for details on their progress in the phase-out, what exposure to LIBOR they still have, their plans for shifting contracts to another benchmark, and fallback language they are using. Barrons ran an article about how a regulatory tweak by the Fed and other regulators could have huge consequences for the US financial system. Monetary policy, coupled with US government borrowing, and capital rules, could push deposits and payments away from banks and into money funds. It could also put the Fed in a much more central role. 

The Fed says that US household debt increased by $85 billion in Q1, due to increases in student loans, mortgage and auto business, but credit card balances dropped by $49 billion. Bankers are expecting credit card spending to increase later this year. The Fed is being second-guessed by several critics for complacency over inflation in April and poor hiring numbers in April. 

At the 04/28 FOMC meeting, the Fed said it was committed to using all its tools to support the US economy, …that the pandemic continues to cause tremendous human and economic hardship,…indicators of economic activity and employment have strengthened, … and that overall financial conditions remain accommodative. It vowed to continue to seek maximum employment and inflation no higher than 2% over the longer run. It did not move the target Fed Funds rate from 0.00%-0.25%. the actual Fed Funds rate has been hovering at 0.25% for the past year. 

Earthquakes and Volcanoes:

Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. A little quieter than it has been previously:

05/13 5.0 SSE of Kuril’sk, Russia

05/13 4.6 SSE of Punta de Burica, Panama

05/13 5.7 SSE of Alo, Wallis and Futuna

05/13 5.1 N of Goroka, Papua New Guinea

05/13 6.0 SSE of Punta de Burica, Panama

05/12 4.6 SW of Dali, China

05/12 5.1 SW of Severo-Kuril’sk, Russia

05/12 5.1 Rat Islands, Aleutian Islands, Alaska

05/12 5.5 NNE of Tobelo, Indonesia

Weather:

The National Weather Service is calling for strong to severe thunderstorms possible across parts of the southern and central Plains today through Saturday and severe wind gusts.  Heavy rainfall is forecast from the western Gulf Coast into the Midwest from today through early next week.  New and renewed river rises and flooding is possible through portions of Texas again. Here in Florida, we’ve been having several days of temperatures in the 90s and high humidity. This weekend, that is expected to yield some major rain. 

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th. According to Accuweather, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was expected to have a more-active-than-normal season. They expected about 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 4 of them major hurricanes.  CSU predicted 16 named storms in the Atlantic, with 8 to become Hurricanes, and 4 to reach Category 3 or above strength.  

Instead, 2020 was a record year, not only with the pandemic, but also in meteorology. There were 30 tropical or subtropical cyclones, 30 named tropical storms, 14 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes. There were also 12 US landfalls, which broke the 2016 record of 9. 28 named storms was the previous record, held by the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season as the most active, and 2020 was also only the second hurricane season to have to use the Greek letter storm-naming system, after running out of the assigned names in the alphabetical system. To put this in perspective, an average Atlantic hurricane season produces only 12 named Tropical Storms, so 2020 was 250% more active than average. 

Since 1900, tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures have increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no El Nino this year in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which usually means that the strong upper-level winds (wind shear) produced did not make it over to the Atlantic Ocean to battle hurricane formation. A La Nina formed late this hurricane season in the Pacific Ocean, which contributed to stronger storms in the latter half of the Atlantic Ocean season. The National Hurricane Center estimates there have only been 37 Category 5 storms in the last 170 years in the Atlantic Ocean. However, we have had 7 Category 5 storms in just the last five years!

The Pacific Hurricane Season BEGAN 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. There are no tropical cyclones currently in the Eastern North Pacific or Central North Pacific. 

Sports News:       

MLB:

The 2019 MLB regular season began on 3/28 of that year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months).  The Washington Nationals beat The Houston Astros in 7 games in The World Series. As these 2 teams play each other in the Spring Training facility that they share (and where I sing the National Anthem at), I was delighted to sing a few games there, before the 2020 Spring Training season (and eventually MLB season) was shut down about 3/15, with the pandemic. Then, MLB cancelled the Minor League seasons for all 3 levels of the Minors. 

MLB finally came to an agreement with the MLBPA, and played a Summer Camp (short Spring Training) leading up to a 60-game, shortened, regular season of the 30 teams still aligned in 6 divisions, and still with AL and NL distinctions, which re-started 7/23/20. The games were played without fans, but the teams still travelled and didn’t not have the ‘Bubble Format’ of the NHL and NBA. That proved to be a mistake, as many games had to be postponed, doubleheadered, or cancelled for several teams, as COVID-19 outbreaks ran through teams.  This “asterisked regular season” ended on 9/27/20. In the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series. 

For 2021, MLB had limited seating in Spring Training and limited travel by teams. They recorded my National Anthem performance and played it on the jumbotron at Roger Dean Stadium 3/26 for a game between the Mets and the Marlins, my 154th MLB National Anthem performance. They just announced that they will not have live Anthem singers for Minor League baseball either, so they will play my recording for some of the games. That restricted seating and other COVID-19 restrictions have continued on in the Regular Season of MLB.  Yet, still with all the restrictions, and MLB contact tracing, some players are getting sick. The star shortstop and the right fielder for the Padres, Fernando Tatis and Wil Myers just tested positive for COVID-19. So far, the 2021 MLB season has most teams bunched together in the standings, with only 6 of 30 clubs more than 4 games out of first place, by Tuesday. The trade deadline is 7/30, but if this continues, it may be difficult for some teams to determine if they should trade to make the playoffs or trade to rebuild. The Rockies have had a ‘rocky’ start, and are one of those 6 faltering teams, after dealing their franchise player, Nolan Arenado, and switching GMs. Now, they are reportedly considering trading their best player, SS Trevor Story. The Angels’ two-way star, Shohei Ohtani continues to amaze on the mound and at the plate. The other day he struck out 10 on the mound in 7 innings, then trotted out to right field to play the rest of the game as an outfielder. He has surrendered only 11 hits in 25 2/3 innings this season, and, shockingly, has hit 10 home runs, putting him in the league lead. Angel pitcher Barreto is scheduled for Tommy John surgery now. Speaking of Tommy John surgery, I was shocked, not only that my Red Sox are in first place, but that they’ve been doing it without their best pitcher, Chris Sale. He only just threw off the mound in Fort Myers, FL, for the first time in the better of 2 seasons, coming off his own TJ surgery. Braves’ pitcher Soroka need exploratory surgery on his Achilles.

Current standings (05/12), after about 37 games:

AL EAST

Boston

NY Y

Toronto

Tampa Bay

Baltimore

AL CENTRAL

Chicago WS

Cleveland

Kansas City

Minnesota

Detroit

AL WEST

Oakland

Houston

Seattle

Texas

LA Angels

NL EAST

NY M

Philadelphia

Atlanta

Miami

Washington

NL CENTRAL

St. Louis

Milwaukee

Chicago Cubs

Cincinnati

Pittsburgh

NL WEST

San Francisco

San Diego

LA Dodgers

Arizona

Colorado

Golf:

The PGA Tour 2021 season rolls on. Jordan Spieth, who was sidelined with COVID-19, is now back on Tour at ‘full strength.’  After Hideki Matsuyama won the Masters Tournament at Augusta.  Next up for the PGA is the AT&T Byron Nelson, which starts today.  The Korn Ferry Tour is going to the Visit Knoxville Open.  PGA Rookie Matthew Wolff has had a strange season.  The 2019 NCAA champion, who won the 2019 3M Open in his 3rd pro start, has withdrawn from the 2nd major of the year, the PGA Championship at the Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort in South Carolina. He gave no reason. It may have to do with a nagging hand injury that forced him to withdraw from the Farmers Insurance Open in January.  He also withdrew from the WGC Workday Championship at The Concession, after shooting an 83.  And, then, in last month’s Masters, he was disqualified for signing the wrong scorecard. His world ranking has gone from No.12 to No.27. Brooks Koepka said his knee is still not 100%, but “dramatically” better than it was at the Masters. Annika Sorenstam has confirmed that she will play in her first US Senior Women’s Open, in July at Brooklawn Country Club. 

NFL:

The 100th NFL season ended last year, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback Super Bowl victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The 2020 season began with no preseason games, with teams in their own stadiums, but with limited numbers of fans. I think the NFL made a huge mistake (I know I keep saying it), just like MLB, in not playing in a bubble like the NBA and NHL.

Super Bowl LV was played in Tampa Bay on Sunday, with the Bucs acting as home team, the first time that a Super Bowl was played in the city where one of the teams was from. Despite the odds against it and his age against him, QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl over the Chiefs, 31-9. Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, as he won his 7th Super Bowl, more than any franchise, let alone any player, in 10 trips to the Super Bowl. 

2020 MVP QB Aaron Rodgers finally let the genie out of the bottle and admitted that he is no longer getting along with Packers management and wants to be traded. What’s strange that 3 teammates closest to him just signed contract extensions. You would think they would pause at doing that if the superstar were leaving. The Bucs re-signed WR Antonio Brown to a one-year contract.  The NFL has released the 2021 schedule. The NFL will be returning to London with 2 games in 2021 (Jets vs Falcons, Dolphins vs Jaguars). Speaking of the Jaguars, they did something I expected them to do in 2005, they finally decided to sign Tim Tebow, who won a Heisman Trophy right down the street at Florida. That should fill the stands with fans. So, I guess his baseball experiment with the Mets has come to an end. He has been signed by the Jags as a TE though, not as a QB, something the Patriots toyed with when he was there. QB Teddy Bridgewater has left the Panthers for his fourth team in the past 4 NFL seasons. He will now compete with Drew Lock for the starting QB position with the Broncos. Lions first-round pick, Penei Sewell, will miss rookie minicamp after testing positive for COVID-19. The Jets are working out former Packers’ first-round pick, WR Tavon Austin. Washington has signed LT Charles Leno to a one-year/$5 million deal. The Cardinals have given LB Jordan Hicks permission to seek a trade. The Broncos have signed 7th round CB Kary Vincent Jr. Ravens have signed 1st round WR Rashod Bateman. The Rams waived LS Colin Holba. This a day after claiming LS Matt Orzech off of waivers from the Titans. The Cowboys are trying out QB J.T. Barrett. The 49ers waived RB Austin Walter. The Colts waived OL Sam Jones. 14 teams have shown interest in CB Steven Nelson, since he was released by the Steelers. Bills worked out DT Eddie Vaderdoes. Mississippi says that former QB Brett Favre owes it $600,000 for events that he didn’t attend. I know I’ve complained a lot about my Patriots renewing the contract on underperforming QB Cam Newton. But, I failed to mention that they did sign first-round draft pick QB Mac Jones, who was Heisman Trophy runner-up, and starter for Ohio State, where he also set several school records. He also runs a 4.68 in the 40-yard dash. Of course, ancient QB Michael Vick just ran a 40-yard dash in 4.70 at his age!

Tennis

The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing. In the Italian Open, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka both lost and Simona Halep was injured. Also in the Italian Open, No.1 Novak Djokovic screamed at the chair umpire, before walking off the court in an angry outburst on Tuesday. He lost his cool as the rain in Rome held up his second-round match against Taylor Fritz. He sat out the Madrid Open last week. He was actually mad that the umpire hadn’t suspended play earlier than he did, when Novak was up 6-3, 5-4, but waited until Fritz broke his serve to make the second set 5-5. Many folks were appalled at Novak’s behavior and said that he should have been given a warning. Sadly, there are no American men in the ATP’s Top 30, for the first time in the nearly 50-year ATP computerized tennis rankings. 

NCAA Basketball

The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, yielded the national champion and undefeated Gonzaga.

These were the latest AP Top 25 Rankings is as of end of 2021 season:

  1.  Gonzaga (26-0)
  2.  Illinois (23-6) up from No.3
  3.  Baylor (22-2) down from No.2 
  4.  Michigan (20-4) 
  5.  Alabama (24-6) 
  6.  Houston (24-3) up from No.7
  7.  Ohio State (21-9) up from No.9
  8.  Iowa (21-8) down from No.5
  9.  Texas (19-7) up from No.13
  10. Arkansas (22-6) down from No.8
  11. Oklahoma State (20-8) up from No.12
  12. Kansas (20-8) down from No.11
  13. West Virginia (18-9) down from No.10
  14. Florida State (16-6) down from No.15
  15. Virginia (18-6) up from No.16
  16. San Diego State (23-4) up from No.19
  17. Loyola Chicago (24-4) up from No.18
  18. Villanova (16-6) down from No.14
  19. Creighton (20-8) down from No.17
  20. Purdue (18-9) 
  21. Texas Tech (17-10) down from No.20
  22. Colorado (22-8) up from No.23
  23. BYU (20-6) up from unranked
  24. USC (22-7) 
  25. Virginia Tech (15-6I) down from No.22

Olympics:

The Olympic Torch began on its 121-day journey around Japan, leading up to the opening of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Japanese tennis star, Naomi Osaka, says she has mixed feelings about the Tokyo Olympics with backdrop of the pandemic, and playing tennis, an Olympic sport this year. Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal is casting doubt on whether he will participate in the Olympics, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. A NY Times Op-Ed says that a sports event shouldn’t be a pandemic spreader and that they should cancel the Tokyo Olympics. A 4th wave of COVID-19 has hit Japan now, causing some to doubt whether the IOC will hold the games there. 

NHL:

The puck dropped on the asterisk season (last season) on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude this past season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans.

The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but will only be 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic. We are approaching the Playoffs and several teams are on the bubble and trying to qualify. There have been many cancelled or postponed games, due to COVID-19 racing through some of the teams. There was also divisional realignment to limit team matchups to intra-division play and minimize team travel as much as possible, due to the pandemic. Now, the NHL said it will adhere to local and national government regulations for the US and Canada, and is prepared to adapt during the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs, as part of its effort to continue prioritizing the health and safety of players, fans, team and League personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of a new 7-year mega WarnerMedia Turner Sports deal with the NHL, the Stanley Cup will air on TNT and TBS and HBO Max will be getting live NHL hockey. Here is what will happen: TNT and TBS will air the Stanley Cup Playoffs 3 out of 7 years outlined in the deal (2023, 2025, and 2027). The other years will be aired by Disney’s ESPN Plus and ABC, as part of NHL’s other major streaming deal, as the NHL’s deal with NBC is ending this year. WarnerMedia’s various properties (including HBO Max) will be able to air half of the conference finals and half of the first 2 rounds of the playoffs each season; 72 regular season games per season; and the NHL Winter Classic exclusively each season. Jonathan Drouin is taking an indefinite leave from the Canadiens for personal reasons. Byfield is making his NHL debut with the Kings. Malkin may return for the Penguins this week. Ice Hockey is now taking hold in Pakistan. Former 9-season NHL goalie Brathwaite, 48, is suiting up as the backup goaltender for the AHL Henderson Silver Knights. His last professional hockey game was in 2011 in Germany. In addition to being the Emergency Backup Goalie for the Silver Knights, he is the goaltending coach for the affiliate Las Vegas Golden Knights. The new NHL career leader in games played is Patrick Marleau of the Sharks, and his tribute video has been narrated by none other than his former teammate and now Maple Leaf, Joe Thornton. Panthers captain Barkov scored the OT game-winning goal over the Canes without looking to put the Panthers in the Playoffs for the first time in 10 years. The Lightning have again clinched a spot in the Playoffs. They also just received their Stanley Cup Champion rings from last year, which each 25-carat ring features 557 diamonds, 81 sapphires, plus a twist top. The 79 diamond-filled Cup turns to reveal a single black diamond that represents a hockey puck, with two engraved hockey sticks and the word “Stockholm,” the site of the 2020 Global Series where the Lightning also swept two games. Each ring also has the phrase “Distant Thunder” on one side, the moniker given to the team’s fan base that supported the team while not being able to attend games in the bubble cities of Toronto and Edmonton during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Tampa Bay Lightning just made NHL history, by starting 3 black forwards on one line.  The regular season isn’t expected to end until 5/19/21.  The order of the top 4 teams for the North and West divisions have not been decided yet. But, the playoffs for most divisions will start on 5/15/21. This is this season’s odd configuration. The top 4 teams from each division make the playoffs, a total of 16 teams:

NORTH (all Canadian) (their current standings 50-55 games into the regular season) No one has clinched yet, so 4 spots still up for grabs for the Playoffs. 

x-Toronto Maple Leafs

x-Edmonton Oilers

x-Winnipeg Jets

x-Montreal Canadiens 

Calgary Flames

Ottawa Senators

Vancouver Canucks

WEST(and their current standings 54-56 games into the regular season) The top 4 have been decided.

x-Las Vegas Golden Knights

x-Colorado Avalanche

x-Minnesota Wild

x-St. Louis Blues 

Arizona Coyotes

LA Kings

San Jose Sharks

Anaheim Mighty Ducks

CENTRAL (and their current standings 56 games into the regular season). The 4 teams have been decided. The Panthers will host the Lightning in the first round. 

x-Carolina Hurricanes

x-Florida Panthers

x-Tampa Bay Lightning

x-Nashville Predators

Dallas Stars

Chicago Blackhawks

Detroit Red Wings

Columbus Blue Jackets

EAST (and their current standings 55-56 games into the regular season) The top 4 teams have finally been decided. The first round begins Saturday, with the No.2 Capitals hosting my No.3 Bruins. 

x-Pittsburgh Penguins

x-Washington Capitals

x-Boston Bruins

x-New York Islanders

NY Rangers

Philadelphia Flyers

New Jersey Devils

Buffalo Sabres

NBA:

Last year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs, when the pandemic shut the regular season down, with just a little over a month left. Late 6/4/20, the NBA reportedly approved a 22-team format to restart the season in the Summer. All games were played at the three venues at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl, starting 7/31. The modified playoff format for this asterisk season began on 10/12. In the end, the Miami Heat lost the Championship to the LA Lakers. 

The NBA season tipped off again on 12/22/20. But, it is totally different. Fan attendance differs in every stadium, depending on different factors, including state COVID-19 guidelines. We’ve played about 68 games so far in the regular season, and here are the current standings (top 8 of each conference make it, with seeding based on 5/11/21 standings, but seed 7 and seed 8 will be decided by a play-in tournament, which includes the current No.7-No.10 teams starting 5/18-5/21):

EASTERN CONFERENCE

x-Philadelphia 76ers

x-Brooklyn Nets

x-Milwaukee Bucks

x-NY Knicks

Atlanta Hawks

Miami Heat

Boston Celtics

Charlotte Hornets

————————–

Indiana Pacers

Washington Wizards

Chicago Bulls

WESTERN CONFERENCE

x-Utah Jazz

x-Phoenix Suns

x-LA Clippers

x-Denver Nuggets

Dallas Mavericks

Portland Trail Blazers

LA Lakers

Golden State Warriors

—————————-

Memphis Grizzlies

San Antonio Spurs

New Orleans Pelicans

Sacramento Kings

Horse Racing:

So, this is strange. For the second time in my life, I visited a racetrack (Palm Beach Kennel Club, which actually isn’t running dogs anymore) to watch and bet on the Kentucky Derby. If that weren’t strange enough, a rookie in horse handicapping, I went up to the window for the race before the Kentucky Derby and did an ‘exacta box’ on the 3 and the 5. I don’t know why. I thought one of them was the favorite. Would you believe, they ended in a Dead Heat, actually tied! So, I won either way: 3/5 or 5/3. Very unusual event, especially at Churchill Downs. So, for me, what was cool was that I just took the winnings and bet on the horse I liked in the Kentucky Derby to WIN.  He was so good that it took at least 16 other horses to beat him!  The 147th “Run for the Roses” and first leg of the Triple Crown (unlike last year’s order due to COVID) was won by Medina Spirit.  It was another Bob Baffert horse (the guy can’t lose!) and you will see it ranked in my top-10 from the Repo Commentary a month before as No.6 favorite.  Yes, my horse, Rock Your World, came in a distant 17th.  There were still 3 horses worse than him.  But, wait, we have controversy for the 3rd time in 3 years!!! Two years ago, it was a late disqualification of the winner for ‘crowding’ the second-place finisher. Then, last year, the Kentucky Derby was held after the traditional second and third legs of the Triple Crown, due to COVID-19. Now, Medina Spirit failed a post-race drug test for a PED. They are rechecking with a second blood sample, but it could invalidate the colt’s win, leaving the second place horse, Mandaloun, as the winner. And if you think it’s unlikely, Bob Baffert has been fined before for this offense. Baffert has admitted that Medina Spirit was treated with an ointment containing the steroid betamethasone. The steroid is allowed in horse racing, but the horse had more than double the allowed limit. Baffert has now been banned from entering any of his horses in races at the race track at Churchill Downs. Medina Spirit just arrived at Pimlico for Saturday’s running of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown Medina Spirit was cleared to run in the Preakness, despite the likely forfeit in the Derby. Unfortunately, if Mandaloun is now declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby, anyone who bet on him will not get any money, because wagering is paid out on “the order of finish as declared “official” by the stewards or judges at the track. However, the more than $1.8 million in winnings would be passed from Medina Spirit’s owners to Mandaloun’s owners. In the Derby’s 147-year history, only 3 races would have been won by the 2nd place horse, and we could see two of them in the last few years!

The top 10-ranked contenders, 2-3 weeks before the Kentucky Derby, were:

1.Concert Tour-just crushed the field at 2021 Rebel Stakes and is another Bob Baffert trained horse

2.Essential Quality-just won 2021 Southwest Stakes

3.Life is Good-just won 2021 San Felipe, another Bob Baffert trained horse

4.Hot Rod Charlie-just won 2021 Louisiana Derby

5.Known Agenda-just won 2021 Florida Derby

6.Medina Spirit-came in 2nd at 2021 San Felipe, another Bob Baffert horse

7.Greatest Honour-came in 3rd 2021 Florida Derby

8.Soup and Sandwich-came in 2nd 2021 Florida Derby

9.Helium-just won 2021 Tampa Bay Derby

10.Like the King-just won 2021 Jeff Ruby Stakes

Auto Racing:

In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. His dad, Bill Elliott, won the championship in 1988. They became the 3rd father-son duo to win the title, joining the Petty’s (Lee and Richard) and Jarrett’s (Ned and Dale).  In 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead.  In 2018, the winner was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead.  Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017.  The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:

02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola

02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon

02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell

02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell

02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron

03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson

03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.

03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney

03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano

04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-Martin Truex Jr.

04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-Bowman

04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-Keselowski

05/02/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Kansas-Kyle Busch

05/09/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Darlington-Martin Truex Jr.

05/16/21 NASCAR Cup Series at Dover-

05/23/21 NASCAR Cup Series at COTA-

Formula One began 2020 with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. F1 is cracking down on flexible rear wings, amid suspicions that some teams are bending the rules. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It did not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:

03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen

04/18/21-Italy-Verstappen edged Hamilton

05/02/21-Portugal-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/09/21-Spain-Hamilton beat Verstappen

05/23/21-Monaco-

06/06/21-Azerbaijan-

06/13/21-Canada-

06/27/21-France-

07/04/21-Austria-

07/18/21-Great Britain-

08/02/21-Hungary-

08/29/21-Belgium-

09/05/21-Netherlands-

09/12/21-Italy-

09/26/21-Russia-

10/03/21-Singapore-

10/10/21-Japan-

10/24/21-United States

10/31/21-Mexico-

11/07/21-Brazil-

11/21/21-Australia-

12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-

12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-

IndyCar Racing circuit (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:

04/18/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park-Alex Palou

04/25/21-St. Petersburg Street Course-Josef Newgarden

05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 1-Scott Dixon

05/02/21-Texas Motor Speedway Grand Prix of Texas Race 2-Pato O’Ward

05/15/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1

05/30/21-Indy 500

06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 1

06/13/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle Race 2

06/20/21-Road America

07/04/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

07/11/21-Toronto Exhibition Place

08/08/21-Nashville Street Course

08/14/21-Indianapolis GP 2

08/21/21-Gateway Motorsports Park

09/11/21-Portland International Raceway

09/19/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

09/26/21-Streets of Long Beach

Travel News:

The wreckage of KRI Nanggala, an Indonesian Navy submarine, has been found in the Bali Sea, and all 53 people on board were confirmed dead. Washington D.C. plans to reopen fully in June, including museums, attractions, and restaurants. Carnival Cruise Lines has now cancelled most sailings through July, but remains hopeful for sailings in the Fall. A couple is raffling off a home in an Italian beach town and the tickets cost only $35. Raffle tickets for the home are available now through September 16, 2021, or until 10,000 tickets are sold. American Ballet Theatre will offer outdoor performances across the country during the month of July. Certain Disney Springs Resorts are offering teachers and first responders rooms for $79 for well-deserved vacations. A company is offering you the chance to spend the night in the iconic sets from the show Friends. Katy Perry will actually be “waking up in Vegas” for a new residency, Play. She will begin 12/29/21 at the new Theatre at the Resorts WorldLV casino. Three other superstars will also have residencies there, Celine Dion (making her return after 1,000 shows at Caesar’s Palace there), Carrie Underwood, and Luke Bryan. Celine will begin on 11/5/21. This Resorts World Las Vegas Casino is the first major hotel to open on the Strip since 2010. It opens this Summer and promises “Las Vegas’s largest and tallest performance stage, with the furthest seat only 150 feet from the stage.” It will also be the only hotel in Las Vegas that will also take cryptocurrency as payment. Germany will now allow vaccinated travelers to skip quarantine and testing. I knew those vaccination cards were going to become very important. Office Depot is offering for free to make a copy of your vaccination card and then laminate it, so you can carry it, and you can put the original in your safe for when you will probably have to produce it to get booster shots in the future. The Island of Capri is welcoming tourists back, after vaccinating 80% of residents. The country’s biggest weekly open-air Food Market will debut in New Jersey this month. Biergartens in Bavaria have reopened, a welcome sign of COVID-19 recovery. AAA says that more than 37 million Americans are expected to travel for Memorial Day. People have got cabin fever from the pandemic restrictions. Norwegian Cruise Line CEO says its Epic new ship class is getting back to cruising safely. A new website allows people to rent privately owned tennis courts, boats, home gyms, and more. Six privately owned Frank Lloyd Wright buildings are opening to the public for virtual tours this weekend. Hopper is introducing last-minute Hotel Booking Feature with deals on certain last minute getaways. 

Health News:  

As of this evening (5/12), globally, more than 3,300,000 people have died from COVID-19.  More than 159,000,000 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 32.5 million people. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 579,214. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (422,340), India (246,116), Mexico (218,985), India (162,144), and UK (127,605). COVID-19 was in fact the third-leading cause of death in the US in 2020! You are, no doubt, hearing more about the variants of the virus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 (UK, South Africa, Brazil, New York, California, etc.), which so far scientists believe the current vaccines will cover. 

While the US and Europe are beginning to ease restrictions and resume some aspects of pre-pandemic life, the virus is still devastating parts of Asia. India, in particular, is seeing record-breaking numbers of cases and deaths, and shortages of oxygen in hospitals. Nepal is also seeing surges. Even in Florida, where restrictions were eased very early, on Tuesday saw an increase of over 3,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 48 new deaths from the pandemic. 

An independent international review panel, set up by the World Health Organization, has released a report that said the combined response of the WHO and global governments was a “toxic cocktail” and that the COVID-19 pandemic was preventable. The report says that the WHO should have declared a global emergency earlier than it did (3/11/2020). It could have declared it a pandemic or at least an international emergency at its first meeting of 2020 on January 22nd. Primarily, the report focused on the world wasting time in February of 2020, which could have reduced the impact of the pandemic and should have imposed travel restrictions sooner, to reduce the spread of the disease. The alarming line in the report was that the pandemic was the 21st Century’s “Chernobyl moment”. 

The US currently has a shortage of chicken and ketchup. 

Animal News:

A rarely seen, deep-sea fish (below 2500 feet) with arm-like fin on its head washed up on a Newport, California beach last week. The arm-like filament looks like a light bulb and attracts prey to its menacing set of teeth. It is a Pacific footballfish. A Missouri animal shelter took in 55 dogs and puppies from Alabama. In Houston, a pet full-grown tiger got out of his house, occupied by a murder suspect who had jumped bail. The owner got him back inside before he attacked anyone and then drove off with the cat in his van. But, he was pulled over by police and arrested. They have no idea where the tiger is though. White House dog, Major, has been involved in another biting incident. In other White House animal news, President Biden announced that a cat would be joining the family soon in the White House. A Chinese safari park said it is “sincerely sorry” for failing to tell the public that its leopards were on the loose. It was afraid that it would affect the flow of tourists coming into the zoo during public holidays. I think it could have reduced the number of tourists leaving the zoo and they should have been thinking about that! Three leopards got out of their enclosure and have been seen roaming neighborhoods in Fuyang. The leopards got loose on 4/19, but were not spotted until 5/2. One is still on the loose. The other two were captured. In other leopard news, rare snow leopards were spotted prowling near Kazakh city during COVID-19 lockdown. Penguins have formed same-sex pairs at the London aquarium. I actually saw this about 8 years ago at the New England Aquarium in Boston. 

Entertainment News:

Beniffer is back! After breaking off with Alex Rodriguez, Jennifer Lopez has reconnected her fiancé of 17 years ago, Ben Affleck. He took her away to a romantic stay in his Montana lodge. They have confirmed they are together and exploring where they are now. At the Academy Awards, NOMADLAND won 3 awards, including Best Picture. Sir Anthony Hopkins was the award for Best Actor and gave a nice tribute to the late actor, from BLACK PANTHER. Perhaps ironically, Amy Poehler and Tina Fay, who co-hosted the Golden Globe Awards this year from LA and NYC, made jokes in their promos for the show that they could finally put an end to the award show. I think they were referring to their comedy upsetting people, but it now looks like a lot of people, particularly in Hollywood, are upset by the lack of diversity in the Golden Globes. NBC has decided not to carry the show next year, several stars are protesting the Globes, and Tom Cruise has returned his 3 Golden Globe Awards in protest of the organization. The Golden Globes have come under fire for the last several years for the lack of sexual and racial diversity, and it seems to now be coming to a boil. I joined many people who watched Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla, as he hosted Saturday Night Live. Her revealed that he is the first person with Asperger’s syndrome to host the show. There is a list of entertainers who are banned for life from Saturday Night Live. The list includes: Sinead O’Connor, Adrien Brody, Rage Against the Machine, Martin Lawrence, Cypress Hill, Steven Seagal, The Replacements, Andy Kaufman (voted off by viewers), Robert Blake, Fear, Milton Berle, Frank Zappa, Charles Grodin, Elvis Costello, Ashlee Simpson, Andrew Dice Clay, Nora Dunn, Donald Trump, Kanye West, Charles Rocket, Sam Kinison, System of a Down, Shane Gillis, Jenny Slate, Claudine Longet, Fred Armisen, and Pete Davidson. Andra Day lost 40 pounds to play Billie Holiday. Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo met at the BRIT Awards. Taylor Swift became the first woman to win BRIT’s Global Icon award.  “Legends of the Hidden Temple” is getting a reboot for adults. Broadway shows have set reopening dates. John Legend and Chrissy Teigen have become VRBO’s first “Family in Residence”. Porsha Williams is engaged to the estranged husband (Simon Guobadia) of her friend, another Real Housewives of Atlanta star. Martha Stewart is beginning her new reality show, trying to find the best hedge-trimmer, ala EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. Well, it started with the infamous interview. Now, Apple TV+ has announced the Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry series debut date. Grey’s Anatomy is coming back for Season 18. Seth Rogen says he has no plans to work with James Franco again. I don’t know why, but I never liked James Franco. HERE TODAY movie is pairing Billy Crystal with Tiffany Haddish in a gone-tomorrow comedy. STAR TREK legend Nichelle Nichols is being honored for helping shape a diverse future for NASA. The Ellen DeGeneres show is ending in 2022 after 19 seasons, amidst allegations of sexual misconduct, racism, and a toxic workplace. Ellen appeared on the Today show this morning to explain that it had nothing to do with her ending the show. Hollywood golden age star Norman Lloyd has died at 106. It’s been 40 years since Bob Marley’s death. On September 30, 1968, Boeing rolled out the first B-747 and the first flight was February 9, 1969. Did you know that the band Led Zeppelin had a fireplace on their Jumbo Jet?

Technology & Space News:

American astronaut Michael Collins, the command module pilot for Apollo 11, has died at the age of 90. A preliminary report on that Tesla fatal crash in Texas in April has revealed that the ‘autopilot function’ was off. However, the National Transportation Safety Board said that the cruise-control may have been on. Humankind has sent about 30 spacecraft and landers to Mars, since the Space Age began. Scientists now know which microbes might have survived the meticulous construction/cleaning process and then the trip from Earth to Mars. We also know how rapid a few particles can grow in space. Ironically, our ‘clean’ rooms for assembly may have served as an evolutionary selection process, which only allowed the hardiest microbes (which could survive radiation, form biofilms, and survive desiccation in cold environments) which could thrive on Mars. So, now there may actually BE life on Mars, but it’s probably from our contamination. 

US News:

Surprisingly, the US military has only vaccinated 30% of personnel. It’s rare that the US military gives soldiers the choice. But, if personnel don’t get vaccinated, they are no eligible for deployment. Still, it’s weird that personnel are resisting getting the vaccine. Republicans ousted Trump critic, Liz Cheney. 

A major crisis is facing North America, as panic buying at gas stations is driving outages in Georgia, shortages in several East Coast states, and long lines and higher prices. This is after Colonial Pipeline, America’s largest pipeline, which carries 45% of the East Coast’s supply of diesel, gasoline, and jet fuel, was attacked by Russian ransomware, taking it offline over the weekend, and seriously restricting supply. As the name implies, ransomware, is hacked into a computer system to take control and will not cede control back to the real owner, unless a ransom is paid. The attack is not only alarming the public, but it brings to light that the government isn’t a sure which agency is in charge of securing its own networks, let alone private ones vital to the economy. It also brings to light the vulnerability of those various private ones, as the private sector does not necessarily employ huge resources 24/7 to figure out the next ploys of hackers. Yet, the hackers treat it as a serious, lucrative ‘job’. Cyber weakness has been a frequent topic for discussion for years, as some 85% of American critical infrastructure is owned by private companies and there are few regulations governing how those companies should protect their computer networks. This is reminding me of the entire grid outage in Texas in 2020. Another difficulty with the Colonial Pipeline attack is that the company has yet to share details of the attack or the ransom with the FBI or CISA and has not indicated whether it intends to pay it or not, sending commodity prices soaring. Lastly, the FBI and Homeland Security are trying to determine if the Russian attack by a private company of hackers (DarkSide) may have been supported or financed by the Russian government. It is believed that the Russian military was involved in a previous hack of SolarWinds which impacted 22 companies. DarkSide actually said on its website, “Our goal is to make money and not creating problems for society.” So, while there are federal agencies empowered to protect government computer systems, the private sector is kind of left to fight on its own against cyberattacks; the equivalent of private companies defending themselves against possible North Korean missiles. The White House is urging Americans not to hoard gas, panicking over potential shortages. Good luck with that, as we saw how that urging worked for toilet paper during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. In case you were wondering, we here in Florida get almost all of our gasoline via tanker delivery, not from the Colonial pipeline. Yet, Floridians are already hoarding gasoline. At the time of writing this, I saw that Colonial is rebooting the computers controlling the pipeline today. 

Some of you, particularly those on social media, may have some personal experiences with ransomware, as it is becoming prevalent in the US. I have had several friends who have been attacked and had photoshopped nude pictures or obscene messages sent to their entire contact lists, unless they paid a ransom. Don’t open any attachments and don’t respond to any correspondence, unless you know who the sender is and if you are sure it’s really them and you trust them. 

The Biden administration is in the midst of a proposed $2 trillion stimulus plan (green plan), which would be the third stimulus plan the government has instituted since the pandemic hit (second for this administration), taking the total to over $6.8 trillion, and outstanding debt of $29 trillion before this $2 trillion. President Biden plans to pay for the majority of this stimulus plan by raising corporate taxes to where they were, before President Trump lowered them to encourage more business. (See Ford news below) Yet, despite the stimuli, the US Unemployment Rate is having trouble budging off of 9%, and unemployment benefits are due to end (after having been rolled a couple of times) in July for millions of Americans. Banks and lawmakers are pushing back on a proposal by President Biden to give the IRS access to banking records to spot discrepancies in tax reports, citing privacy issues and a negative effect on bank-customer relationships. 

Bankruptcy:

In 2020, restaurant and food service industry sales fell by $240 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry 2021 report.  Although more than 27,000 restaurants have gone out of business permanently during the pandemic, the restaurants who have survived, with help from the PPP loans and state grants, are seeing a spike in demand, particularly here in Florida. The new problem is that these restaurants are having trouble hiring qualified people. In Florida, some restaurants are offering signing bonuses, to attract new employees. Some restaurants, like Duffy’s Sports Bar down here, have learned that laying off 3,500 employees and shutting down all their restaurants until all restrictions were lifted, while being easier and maybe less costly during 2020, is becoming a problem for them now. It turns out that many of their employees have permanently moved on or are on Unemployment still and making more money on that than they were making in wages. As Unemployment benefits continue to be rolled on, the conundrum continues.  I have heard that Florida is now going to require those receiving unemployment benefits to list the 5 places they interviewed with that week. That, may push people in that industry to return. 

International News:

Fears of war are increasing as Israel/Gaza violence escalates. The barrage of Palestinian militant rockets and Israeli airstrikes has grown to the worst violence in years. Israeli airstrikes and Hamas militant missile launches have killed dozens of people and injured hundreds more, following clashes at the al-Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere in Jerusalem. Cameroon has jailed transgender women for five years. The Taliban captured an Afghan district ahead of the ceasefire.  The worries are mounting in Afghanistan, as the US continues towards a planned withdrawal of all troops from the country. The US is packing what it can from the 20-year war there, but will be leaving much of the military bases for the Afghan Army to take over to fight the expected surge of the Taliban for control of the country. Also in Afghanistan, a bombing near a school in Kabul killed at least 85 people and injured more than 140 others. An Austrian leader is being investigated in a corruption inquiry. At least 9 people were killed in a school shooting in Kazan, Russia.  In other Russian news, Russia is massing troops on the border with Ukraine again. Ukraine is threatening to take Crimea back by force.  China is threatening Taiwan and its neighbors, while also threatening US Navy ships. North Korea is again testing missiles again and is restarting their nuclear weapons program. Iran is continuing to do some major sabre-rattling lately.  Ford is shutting down a US production plant and moving it to Mexico, after having just brought it back from Mexico to the US, because of the current administration’s plan to raise corporate taxes. Maldives speaker of parliament and former president Mohamed Nasheed was injured with 4 others in a car bombing in Male. 

Florida:

Did you ever notice that a high percentage of Dateline crime stories are filmed in Florida? On Tuesday, Florida reported 3,263 new cases of COVID-19, resulting in 48 new deaths. A 77-year-old Dunkin’ Donuts customer was fatally punched by an employee at a Florida store. 

Jokes and Such:

Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J

41. What’s the difference between a poorly dressed man on a unicycle and a well-dressed man on a bicycle?

Attire.

42. What did the Buddhist ask the hot dog vendor?

“Make me one with everything.”

43. You know why you never see elephants hiding up in trees?

Because they’re really good at it.

44. A horse walks into a bar.

The bartender says, “Why the long face?”

45. How did the hipster burn his mouth?

He ate his pizza before it was cool.46. What do you get when you cross a dyslexic, an insomniac, and an agnostic?

Someone who lays awake at night wondering if there’s a dog.

47. As a scarecrow, people say I’m outstanding in my field.

But hay, it’s in my jeans.

48. Why don’t blind people skydive?

Because it scares their dogs.

49. What’s the difference between an oral thermometer and a rectal thermometer?

The taste, mostly.

50. I stayed up all night and tried to figure out where the sun was.

Then it dawned on me.

51. I told my friend ten jokes to make him laugh.

Sadly, no pun in ten did.

52. I couldn’t believe the highway department called my dad a thief.

But when I got home, the signs were all there.

I promise that they will continue to be corny or cornier, unless you give me some good quasi-clean jokes for adults…

Repo Commentary-04/01/21





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mso-list-template-ids:-177726256 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l5:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l5:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l5:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l5:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l5:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l5:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; 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mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l6:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l7 {mso-list-id:298851753; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:629057344 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l7:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l7:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l7:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l7:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; 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mso-list-template-ids:-125766304 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l8:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:40.65pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l8:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:76.65pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @list l8:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:112.65pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l8:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:148.65pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l8:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; 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mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:184.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l10:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:220.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l10:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:256.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l10:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:292.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l10:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:328.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l11 {mso-list-id:470175817; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1424318960 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l11:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l11:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l11:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l11:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l11:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l11:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l11:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l11:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l11:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l12 {mso-list-id:513805310; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1579889698 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l12:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:40.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l12:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:76.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l12:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:112.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l12:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:148.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l12:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:184.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l12:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:220.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l12:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:256.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l12:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:292.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l12:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:328.5pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l13 {mso-list-id:647058511; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:1192120772 -1758567400 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l13:level1 {mso-level-start-at:0; mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:•; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; mso-ansi-font-size:16.0pt; font-family:”Helvetica Neue”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @list l13:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l13:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l13:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l13:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l13:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l13:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l13:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l13:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l14 {mso-list-id:655648075; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:1910900010 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l14:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l14:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l14:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l14:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l14:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l14:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l14:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l14:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l14:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l15 {mso-list-id:661468776; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-450613036 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l15:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l15:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l15:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l15:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l15:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l15:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l15:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l15:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l15:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l16 {mso-list-id:672807283; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:1625441320 -1758567400 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l16:level1 {mso-level-start-at:0; mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:•; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; mso-ansi-font-size:16.0pt; font-family:”Helvetica Neue”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @list l16:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l16:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l16:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l16:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l16:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l16:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l16:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l16:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l17 {mso-list-id:706829947; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-654903680 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l17:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l17:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l17:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l17:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l17:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l17:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l17:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l17:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l17:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l18 {mso-list-id:798304707; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1173174908 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l18:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:45.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l18:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:81.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l18:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:117.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l18:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:153.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l18:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:189.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l18:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:225.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l18:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:261.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l18:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:297.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l18:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; margin-left:333.0pt; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l19 {mso-list-id:1001349736; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-355171904 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l19:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l19:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l19:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l19:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l19:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l19:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l19:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l19:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l19:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l20 {mso-list-id:1038625445; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1509030608 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l20:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l20:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l20:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l20:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l20:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l20:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l20:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l20:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l20:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l21 {mso-list-id:1057437590; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1436895860 -1758567400 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l21:level1 {mso-level-start-at:0; mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:•; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; mso-ansi-font-size:16.0pt; font-family:”Helvetica Neue”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @list l21:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l21:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l21:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l21:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l21:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l21:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l21:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l21:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l22 {mso-list-id:1073545562; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:806672782 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l22:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l22:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l22:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l22:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l22:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l22:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l22:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l22:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l22:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l23 {mso-list-id:1186210015; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1411760118 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l23:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l23:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l23:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l23:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l23:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l23:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l23:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l23:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l23:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l24 {mso-list-id:1239824911; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:967862892 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l24:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l24:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l24:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l24:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l24:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l24:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l24:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l24:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l24:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l25 {mso-list-id:1512454478; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:999868938 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l25:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l25:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l25:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l25:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l25:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l25:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l25:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l25:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l25:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l26 {mso-list-id:1763725462; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:908349380 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l26:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l26:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l26:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l26:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l26:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l26:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l26:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l26:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l26:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l27 {mso-list-id:1811366265; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-293425292 -1758567400 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l27:level1 {mso-level-start-at:0; mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:•; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; mso-ansi-font-size:16.0pt; font-family:”Helvetica Neue”; mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;} @list l27:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l27:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l27:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l27:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l27:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l27:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l27:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l27:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l28 {mso-list-id:1842617117; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:934031170 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l28:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l28:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l28:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l28:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l28:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l28:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l28:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l28:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l28:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l29 {mso-list-id:1944219017; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-694665046 67698693 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l29:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l29:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l29:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l29:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l29:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l29:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l29:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l29:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l29:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l30 {mso-list-id:1962148748; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:1588209092 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l30:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l30:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l30:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l30:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l30:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l30:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l30:level7 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l30:level8 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l30:level9 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l31 {mso-list-id:2056544500; mso-list-type:hybrid; mso-list-template-ids:-1991236944 67698693 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693 67698689 67698691 67698693;} @list l31:level1 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l31:level2 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l31:level3 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Wingdings;} @list l31:level4 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:Symbol;} @list l31:level5 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; mso-level-text:o; mso-level-tab-stop:none; mso-level-number-position:left; text-indent:-.25in; font-family:”Courier New”;} @list l31:level6 {mso-level-number-format:bullet; 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It is Day 386 (on 04/01) since the official start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the day that the WHO declared it a ‘pandemic’ (3/11/20).
 
 
I hope that you and your families are staying healthy and safe. New COVID-19 cases in the US dropped to the lowest rate in 3 months. Vaccine distribution began in the US on 12/14/20 and more than 145 million vaccinations have been administered (as of 3/30/21). We have fully vaccinated over 52.4 million people out of a population of about 330 million. However, we are nowhere close to herd immunity, which would be about 70-90% of people vaccinated. The vaccine administration rate in the US has exceeded 2 million shots per day. I received my first of two shots of the Pfizer vaccine on 3/20/21. My second shot is scheduled 4/10/21. I am very happy to receive them.
 
 
 
 



I have designed and crafted an 11-week state-of-the-art virtual training/education course on the Fundamentals of Repo. You can learn more about the course here:  https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo. It is now available. I think you will find it a very informative, complete, and an entertaining version of distanced learning, with my usual humor and my experience sprinkled across some 149 PowerPoint presentations within a new state-of-the-art Teachable system, with hours of my voiceovers, as well as 10 videos, and an exam. The course has international accreditation from Chartered Institute For Securities and Investment (CISI).  I suspect many companies have already budgeted to subscribe and relieve themselves of the burden of training their people in Repo, and leave it to one of the OG Repo dinosaurs. Lol. But, first, check out my friend, Professor Moorah Choudhry’s, FREE 30-minute Primer on Repo (at the same address), which introduces my course.
 
 
 
So, I am NOT RETIRED from the Securities Finance industry. 
·     I am teaching the above Pierpoint Finance Academy course on Repo Fundamentals.
·     I am consulting with 2 large firms about repo issues and business plans. 
·     I am sharing my opinion and expertise with industry periodicals in articles, like the recent Global Investor Group/ISF article.
·     I am consulting with an electronic trading platform.
·     I am participating as the Repo expert for the Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC)- training/networking/brainstorming/question-answering group, Pierpoint Alpha Community (PAC), and subsequent forums.
·     I  have also just been asked to be a panel moderator for a virtual conference being held by Securities Finance Times in May.
 
Kidwell Consultants, LLC is available FOR HIRE as a consultant. So, if you need my Securities Financing expertise or access to my vast network of about 9000 clients, call my mobile (646-753-1300), email (jeffkidwell82@gmail.com), or hit me up on LinkedIn.  
 
 
My Repo Commentary is posted FREE (it’s actually always been free) on my website:  www.repocommentary.com. It also pops up on LinkedIn, the Global Investors Group (ISF Magazine) website, and on CentralBanks.com as an op-ed. I am interested in entertaining you and taking your mind off the pressures you are under. Since its inception in 1982, the Repo Commentary does not represent the views of any of my former firms and reflects only my opinion and includes only publicly available information.  I make a strong effort to attribute any quotes or thoughts that are not my own, I do not make any marketing spiels, and I really am more interested (70-80%) in entertaining you than boring (20-30%) you with too much market info. Feel free, as always, to send me information or pictures, to make it better!
 
 
Holidays or Events (04/01):
 
 
•      April Fools’ Day
•      Assyrian New Year
•      Boomer Bonus Day
•      Fossil Fools Day
•      International Edible Book Festival
•      International Fun at Work Day (not to be confused with April Fools’ Day
•      International Tatting Day
•      Lupus Alert Day
•      National Burrito Day
•      National Jump in Muddy Puddles Day
•      National Trombone Players Day
•      National One Cent Day
•      National Sourdough Bread Day
•      National Love for our Children Day
•      St. Stupid Day
•      Reading is Funny Day
•      Sorry Charlie Day
•      Poetry and Creative Mind Day
•      US Air Force Academy Day
•      Odisha Day (Odisha India)
•      Arbor Day (Tanzania)
•      Civil Service Day (Thailand)
•      Cyprus National Day (Cyprus)
•      Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday, just before Easter)
•      National Atheist’s Day (kind of ironic with the 3 main religions having holidays)
 
For those who celebrate, Happy Passover (which Judaism is in the midst of) and Happy Easter (which Christians celebrate this Sunday). Ramadan (Islam) is coming up as well, so the 3 main religions are represented with holidays.
 
Some Famous People Born on (04/01):
 
 
•      1220-Emperor Go-Saga of Japan
•      1282-Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor
•      1640-Georg Mohr, Danish mathematician and academic
•      1815-Otto von Bismarck, German lawyer and 1st Chancellor of the German Empire
•      1873-Sergei Rachmaninoff, Russian pianist, composer, and conductor
•      1883-Lon Chaney, American actor, director, and screenwriter
•      1909-Eddy Duchin, American pianist and bandleader
•      1929-Jane Powell, American actress, singer, and dancer
•      1932-Debbie Reynolds, Scottish-Irish-American actress, singer, and dancer
•      1939-Ali MacGraw, American model and actress
•      1939-Phil Niekro, American baseball player and manager
•      1948-Jimmy Cliff, Jamaican singer and musician
•      1955-Don Hasselbeck, American football player and sportscaster
•      1961-Susan Boyle, Scottish singer
 
Daily Weird Facts:
 
 
Finland is the world’s happiest country, according to the 2019 World Happiness Report.
 
 
 
Daily Affirmation/Thought/Pun/Quote:
 
 
 
“I say luck is when an opportunity comes along and you’re prepared for it.”—Denzel Washington
 
 
 
 
Currency and Commodity Markets:
 
Oil prices closed at:
 
$74.34/barrel on 10/5/18
$47.66/barrel on 12/23/18
$48.63 on 01/07/19
$73.77/barrel on 4/29
$53.50/barrel on 10/2
$59.10/barrel on 12/8
$58.81/barrel on 1/17/20
$35.92/barrel on 3/11
$27.15/barrel on 3/18
$24.90/barrel on 4/01
$31.80/barrel on 4/12
$28.31/barrel on 4/17
$20.03/barrel on 4/27
$26.78/barrel on 5/04
$30.39/barrel on 5/09
$35.69/barrel on 5/20
$50.70/barrel on 01/04/21
$56.04/barrel on 01/13
$60.07/barrel on 02/16
$66.34/barrel on 03/05
$61.30/barrel on 04/01
 
 
OPEC shows confidence in economic recovery, as it raises oil supply. Oil prices have rallied well past pre-COVID-19 prices. The price of gasoline at my West Palm Beach station fallen about 10 cents in the past 2 weeks, to $2.69/gallon. There are some stations in the area that are charging as much as $3.39/gallon.
 
 
 
One USD versus the Yen was trading at (these are all around Repo Commentary dates). I did decide to trim this running list to just a few dates:
 
112.20 on 12/24/18
102.96 on 12/06/19
104.80 on 02/07/20
99.23 on 03/11/20
103.55 on 12/16/20
103.90 on 01/13/21
105.47 on 02/04/21
106.00 on 02/16/21
108.31 on 03/05/21
110.63 on 04/01/21
 
 
One Euro was trading on:
 
12/24/18 at $1.1426
12/06/19 at $1.1688
03/11 at $1.1937
05/04 at $1.0903
12/16/20 at $1.2196
01/04 at $1.2246
01/13 at $1.2156
02/04 at $1.2625
02/16 at $1.210
03/05 at $1.1915
04/01 at $1.1774
 
 
 
One British Pound was trading on:
 
12/24/18 at $1.2655
12/06/19 at $1.3819
02/07 at $1.3574
03/11 at $1.354
03/18 at $1.2665
03/24 at $1.2231
12/16/20 at $1.3494
01/04 at $1.3571
01/13 at $1.3635
02/04 at $1.3659
02/16 at $1.3903
03/05 at $1.3841
04/01 at $1.3832
 
 
 
One USD versus the CAD at:
 
1.3442 on 12/24/18
1.2530 on 12/06/19
1.2390 on 01/17/20
1.3020 on 03/11
1.3540 on 03/18
1.2752 on 12/16/20
1.2787 on 01/04
1.2703 on 01/13
1.2837 on 02/04
1.2691 on 02/16
1.2659 on 03/05
1.2548 on 04/01
 
 
For Gold prices, I have decided to put this in list form, but maintain a trimmed list of dates with prices.
 
10/02/19 $1498.70/ounce
03/11/20 $1,641/ounce
07/27/20 a record $1,944.71/ounce
11/10/20 $1,880.30
11/30/20 $1,774.00
12/16/20 $1,858.20
01/04/21 a new record $1,948.00
01/13/21 $1,848.70
02/04/21 $1,796.20
02/16/21 $1,793.60
03/05/21 $1,698.70
04/01/21 $1,730.00
 
 
Bitcoin was trading at (around Repo Commentary Dates):
  
$8,185.21 on 7/25/18
$6,350 on 10/5/18
$3,774.97 on 12/24/18
$3,774.97 on 01/07/19
$3,598.90 on 01/16
$3,421.10 on 02/06
$3,826.44 on 02/26
$8,100.00 on 05/16
$7,215.79 on 05/17
$9,088.59 on 06/18
$11,919.30 on 06/25
$9,790.37 on 07/24
$10,183.90 on 09/10
$8,235.46 on 10/02
$7,470.41 on 12/06
$8,876.87 on 01/17/20
$9,793.18 on 02/07/20
$7,871.60 on 03/11/20
$5,216.64 on 03/18/20
$6,728.03 on 03/24/20
$6,646.60 on 03/27/20
$6,443.44 on 03/31/20
$6,908.13 on 04/12/20
$7,128.45 on 04/19/20
$7,748.29 on 04/27/20
$8,775.36 on 05/04/20
$8,771.73 on 05/10/20
$9,525.54 on 05/20/20
$9,794.46 on 06/04/20
$10,849.00 on 07/27/20
$15,160.90 on 11/10/20
$19,411.50 on 11/30/20
$20,665.10 on 12/16/20
$31,592.20 on 01/04/21
$36,433.00 on 01/13/21
$36,607.50 on 02/04/21
$48,526.90 on 02/16/21
$58,093.71 on 02/21/21
$43,170.01 on 02/28/21
$49,207.43 on 03/05/21
$58,979.60 on 04/01/21
 
 
 
After rebounding in 2019 dramatically since the beginning of the year, although certainly not to its $19,000 high, Bitcoin hit a wall at the beginning of the Summer of 2019, then rallied during the Summer, and tumbled again in Q4, and had rallied in early in 2020.  It then gave up all of those 2020 gains with the COVID-19 contagion. It rallied sharply in the last few weeks before the ‘halving event’ on 5/12/20, its 3rd halving event.  On 3/13/20, it had cratered at $3,867.  But, Bitcoin appears to be replacing Gold as the safe-haven of choice for some investors from the weakening US dollar and risk of rising inflation. There is also growing interest from institutional investors. Crypto firms got more funding last quarter than in all of 2020. The price of Bitcoin fell about $2,000 within a 5-minute period on Wednesday, which prompted liquidations of some long positions amounting to an estimated $600 million. Analysts still believe a target of $60,000 for April is still possible.
 
 
Brexit:
 
 
The
 
 
Global Financial News:
 
 
Susan Estes points out that concerns are growing over ETFs that may have illiquid holdings and the ability of investors to differentiate those ETFs from ones who have securities which are easy to trade. China has approved the merger of two chemical giants, creating a $150 billion company, paving the way for another supersize state-run enterprise and the potential for China to become a dominant global player. The SEC has opened a preliminary investigation into Bill Hwang over the margin call calamity that’s still roiling Wall Street. Archegos made a series of wrong-way wagers that prompted broker/dealers to liquidate its positions. They ultimately faced margin calls that they could not meet, prompting banks, like Goldman Sachs, to liquidate positions through a series of block trades. One of Credit Suisse’s biggest shareholders said losses from the Archegos Capital crisis could lead to sweeping changes. Credit Suisse and Nomura, which served as brokers for Hwang’s bets and lent him huge amounts of money, are now warning shareholders that they face “significant” losses. Unlike others, Deutsche Bank revealed it dodged a $4 billion bullet in one huge deal, helping it emerge unscathed from the debacle. One of the main issues at hand is regulatory oversight, as Hwang was able to amass tens of billions of dollars in these wrong-way stock bets, while not disclosing his positions to other market participants, by entering into Total Return swaps transactions with banks. TRS are often used in place of Repo. Those swaps allow investors to get exposure to price moves without actually buying shares of the companies. Also, because Hwang operated out of a family office, he was exempt from registering with the SEC or filing a confidential document with the agency, a form PF, that other asset managers, private-equity firms, and hedge funds must file with the SEC. The riskiest US junk bonds are now outperforming just about everything. Overall, Q1 figures show that in general there was stronger risk appetite among large and small investors. Wall Street’s $100 billion SPAC boom is rearranging the league tables, as Citi jumps to No.1 and UBS falls out of top 10. China’s commodities binge has caused a major problem for the US spending plan in the future, as China got to raw materials first.
 
 
US Market News:
 
 
US jobless claims rose, as the labor market recovery remains choppy. At levels above the magic 30,000, the Dow is now well above its pre-pandemic peak of 29,569. It has just backed off a little from its record high cracking of 33,000.  
 
Here are the latest DJIA closes, just to demonstrate the massive volatility (this is the next list I intend to trim to just important dates):
 
 
03/31/21  32,981.55
03/05/21   31,496.30
02/16/21  31,522.75
02/03/21  30,723.60
01/13/21   31,060.47
12/31/20   30,606.48
12/15/20   30,199.31
12/01/20   29,823.92
11/09/20   29,157.97
07/24/20   26,469.89
07/23/20 26,652.33
07/22/20   27,005.84
07/21/20   26,840.40
07/20/20   26,680.87
07/17/20   26,671.95
07/16/20   26,734.71
07/15/20   26,870.10
07/14/20   26,642.59
07/13/20   26,085.80
07/10/20   26,075.30
07/09/20   25,706.09
07/08/20   26,067.28
07/07/20   25,890.18
07/06/20   26,287.03
07/02/20   25,827.36
07/01/20   25,734.97
06/30/20   25,812.88
06/29/20   25,595.80
06/26/20   25,015.55
06/25/20   25,745.60
06/24/20   25,445.94
06/23/20   26,156.10
06/22/20   26,024.96
06/19/20   25,871.46
06/18/20   26,080.10
06/17/20   26,119.61
06/16/20   26,289.98
06/15/20   25,763.16
06/12/20   25,605.54
06/11/20   25,128.17
06/10/20   26,989.99
06/09/20   27,272.30
06/08/20   27,572.44
06/05/20   27,110.98
6/04/20     26,281.82
6/03/20     26,269.89
6/02/20     25,742.65
6/01/20     25,475.02
5/29/20     25,383.11
5/28/20     25,400.64
5/27/20     25,548.27
5/26/20     24,995.11
5/22/20     24,465.16
5/21/20     24,474.12
5/20/20     24,575.90
5/19/20     24,206.86
5/18/20     24,597.37
5/15/20     23,685.42
5/14/20     23,625.34
5/13/20     23,247.57
5/12/20     23,764.76
5/11/20     24,221.99
5/08/20     24,331.32
5/07/20     23,875.89
5/06/20     23,664.64
5/05/20     23,883.09
5/04/20     23,749.76
5/01/20     23,723.69
4/30/20     24,345.72
4/29/20     24,633.86
4/28/20     24,101.55
4/27/20     24,133.78
4/24/20     23,775.27
4/23/20     23,515.26
4/22/20     23,475.82
4/21/20     23,018.88
4/20/20     23,650.44
4/17/20     24,242.49
4/16/20     23,537.68
4/15/20     23,504.35
4/14/20     23,949.76
4/13/20     23,390.77
4/10/20     market closed
4/09/20    23,719.37
4/08/20     23,433.57
4/07/20     22,653.86
4/06/20     22,679.99
4/03/20     21,052.53
4/02/20     21,413.44
4/01/20     20,943.51
3/31/20     21,917.16
3/30/20     22,327.48
3/27/20     21,636.78
3/26/20     22,552.17
3/25/20     21,200.55
3/24/20     20,704.91
3/23/20    18,591.93
3/20/20    19,173.98
3/19/20    20,087.19
3/18/20     19,898.92
3/17/20     21,237.38
3/16/20     20,188.52
3/13/20     23,185.62
3/12/20     21,200.62
3/11/20     23,553.22
3/10/20     25,018.16
3/09/20     23,851.02
3/06/20     25,864.78
3/05/20     26,121.28
3/04/20     27,090.86
3/03/20     25,917.41
3/02/20     26,703.32
2/28/20     25,409.36
2/27/20     25,766.64
2/26/20     26,957.59
2/25/20     27,081.36
2/24/20     27,960.80
2/21/20     28,992.41
2/20/20     29,219.98
2/19/20     29,348.03
2/12/20     29,551.42 record high
 
 
 
 
S&P 500 has closed on (trimmed list):
 
10/5/18 at 2,885.58
12/26/18 at 2,467.70
12/06/19 at 3,145.91
02/07/20 at 3,335.27 down 10.51 from new all-time high
03/23/20 at 2,237.40
12/15/20 at 3,647.49
01/13/21 at 3,809.84
02/03/21 at 3,830.17
02/16/21 at 3,923.59
03/05/21 at 3,841.94
03/31/21 at 3,972.89
 
 
S&P has regained everything it lost since 3/11 pandemic announcement, and more, breaking above the high set in early September 2020.  It set a record on 12/8 of 3,702.25, then backed off, then shot higher again to a new record 02/16.  It has continued to be up at new record highs. Today, S&P 500 surged past a record 4,000.
 
 
Nasdaq closed on (trimmed list):
 
10/5/18 at 7,788.45
12/26/18 at 6,554.36
12/06/19 at 8,656.07
02/07/20 at 9,555.96 down 16.19 from new all-time high
03/23/20 at 6,860.67
06/04/20 at 9,615.81 don’t look now, but we have set a new record high, above the previous high of 2/07/20!
12/15/20 at 12.505.06
01/13/21 at 13,128.95
02/03/21 at 13,610.54
02/16/21 at 14,047.50  new record high
03/05/21 at 12,920.15
03/31/21 at 13,246.87
 
The US Treasury market’s steepening has continued, as long duration securities rise in yield, while the short-end is still pinned.
 
 
2 YEAR NOTES closed on (trimmed list):
 
10/5/18 at 2.88%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
12/06/19 at 1.61%
02/06/20 at 1.44%
03/11/20 at 0.50%
03/17/20 at 0.47%
03/23/20 at 0.28% wow!
05/10/20 at 0.16% historic low
07/24/20 at 0.14% new historic low
12/15/20 at 0.11% wow really low!
01/04/21 at 0.11%
01/13/21 at 0.14%
02/03/21 at 0.11%
02/16/21 at 0.11%
03/05/21 at 0.14%
03/31/21 at 0.16%
 
 
3 YEAR NOTES closed on:
 
10/5/18 at 2.99%
12/18/18 at 2.64%
01/07/19 at 2.47% (inverted to 2years)
12/06/19 at 1.64%
02/06/20 at 1.43%
03/11/20 at 0.58%
03/17/20 at 0.54%
03/23/20 at 0.31% wow!
05/10/20 at 0.21%
07/24/20 at 0.17% wow!
11/09/20 at 0.25%
12/15/20 at 0.18% wow!
01/04/21 at 0.16% record low!
01/13/21 at 0.22%
02/03/21 at 0.17%
02/16/21 at 0.17%
03/05/21 at 0.32%
03/31/21 at 0.35%
 
 
 
5 YEAR NOTES closed on:
 
10/5/18 at 3.07%
12/18/18 at 2.65%
12/06/19 at 1.67%
02/07/20 at 1.45%
03/11/20 at 0.66%
03/17/20 at 0.56%
03/23/20 at 0.38%
03/26/20 at 0.51%
03/31/20 at 0.37%
07/24/20 at 0.27% wow!
12/15/20 at 0.37%
01/04/21 at 0.36%
01/13/21 at 0.48%
02/03/21 at 0.46%
02/16/21 at 0.42%
03/05/21 at 0.79%
03/31/21 at 0.92%
 
 
7 YEAR NOTES closed on:
 
10/5/18 at 3.18%
12/18/18 at 2.74%
12/06/19 at 1.78%
02/06/20 at 1.56%
03/11/20 at 0.78%
03/17/20 at 0.91%
03/23/20 at 0.63%
03/26/20 at 0.72%
03/31/20 at 0.55%
07/24/20 at 0.44%
11/09/20 at 0.70% back to near pre-COVID level
12/15/20 at 0.64%
01/04/21 at 0.64%
01/13/21 at 0.80%
02/03/21 at 0.81%
02/16/21 at 0.76%
03/05/21 at 1.23%
03/31/21 at 1.40%
 
 
10 YEAR NOTES closed on:
 
10/5/18 at 3.23%
12/18/18 at 2.82%
09/09/19 at 1.83%
10/01/19 at 1.65% dramatic drop in one month!
12/06/19 at 1.84% dramatic rise in two months!
02/06/20 at 1.65% and back down again!
03/11/20 at 0.82%
03/17/20 at 1.02% and back up again
03/23/20 at 0.76% and back down again
07/24/20 at 0.59%
11/09/20 at 0.96% back to pre-COVID level
12/15/20 at 0.92%
01/04/21 at 0.93%
01/13/21 at 1.10%
02/03/21 at 1.15%
02/16/21 at 1.09%
03/05/21 at 1.56%
03/31/21 at 1.74%
 
 
30 YEAR BONDS closed on:
 
10/5/18 at 3.40%
12/18/18 at 3.07%
07/24/19 at 2.58%
09/10/19 at 2.11%
12/06/19 at 2.29%
02/06/20 at 2.11%
03/11/20 at 1.30%
03/17/20 at 1.63% way up!
03/23/20 at 1.33% back down
07/24/20 at 1.23%
11/09/20 at 1.73% back to pre-COVID level
12/15/20 at 1.65%
01/04/21 at 1.66%
01/13/21 at 1.82%
02/03/21 at 1.92%
02/16/21 at 1.84%
03/05/21 at 2.28%
03/31/21 at 2.41%
                                                                                   
 
Housing News:
 
The Working-From-Home phenomenon continues, as people realize if they can work from home, why shouldn’t that home be out of the cold Northeast or taxing California, and have stepped up an exodus to Arizona and Florida, so I’m hearing from realtors in both states. Construction, partly because of skyrocketing prices on materials due to COVID-19 shutdowns, cannot keep up with the demand. Pending home sales dropped 10.6% from January, with all major regions showing a decline. Experts say the decline was attributed to very low inventory. New home sales also plunged 18.2%, but yet demand remained strong. Home prices saw their highest gain in nearly 15 years. The delinquency rate rose for the first time in 9 months. Existing home sales fell 6.6%, again on weak supply. Some experts think that the great refi boom may be over. Vacation towns and suburbs have seen the largest housing increases. Fannie Mae says that housing market confidence should rise soon.
 
 
Repo/Securities Financing News:                               
 
 
Okay, I won’t run another ad for it, since I ran it at the top of this Repo Commentary.  Please just take a look at: https://www.pierpoint.info/courses/the-fundamentals-of-repo.
 
Well, we got through another quarter-end. This was subdued compared to past ones, as there is a collateral shortage, and it’s probably not going away soon. The tax filing date was moved from 4/15 to 5/17, but the Fed is continuing to buy $120 billion in securities every month and US Treasury is actually now paying down debt, at least for the next month, instead of issuing more or the Fed issuing CM bills. That could leave GC repo rates near zero percent for a month or two. State Street’s, Darren Wilson, has moved from EMEA cash and liquidity sales team to the funding and collateral solutions desk, under Staffan Ahiner. DataLend says that securities finance revenues are up 10% in Q1 year/year, mostly due to the IPOs, SPACs, and short squeezes of January. Those squeeze events on various stocks helped boost Equities Trading revenues by 8% too, compared to 2020 Q1. The FCA is launching a UK SPAC consultation, increasing scrutiny and potential regulations, for an area that has been a valuable revenue stream for Securities Lending participants. Women in Securities Finance has unveiled a new website, womeninsecuritiesfinance.com. ISLA and ICMA are warning that the grace period for including 3rd party LEIs must be extended again beyond April, because of big gaps in the data. ICMA published its first post-Brexit update to its SFTR guide. The final phase of the EU’s SFTR went live in January, which brought in non-financial counterparties. That actually widened the regulatory divergence between EU and UK with Brexit. EACH has responded for the industry to the European Commission Inception Impact Assessment on the current CSDR SDR. Broadridge has partnered with AccessFintech, to automate settlement fails, which will help with compliance to CSDR requirements. It appears that the majority of the industry polled are in favor of buy-ins for Fails to become voluntary. Bursa Malaysia has extended its intraday shorting ban. Citi is looking for a global head of Agency Lending Operations.
 
Securities Finance Industry Conferences
 
The Securities Financing industry had all of these annual conferences, several for many years, which used to be attended by thousands of firms, colleagues, and peers. After the financial crisis, the numbers of participants decreased, as firms’ budgets were reduced. Some of the conferences were excellent networking opportunities and some had extremely valuable panels and current information and issues being discussed. Some of the more recent ones focused information and questions on specific sectors to be more effective. There was also a major emphasis recently by many of the conferences on diversity and women’s participation in the industry. Unfortunately, COVID-19 led to the banishing of gatherings worldwide, and these conferences were cancelled or held for free virtually.  That isn’t a viable business plan for conference organizers though, as it can be costly to put these events on. So, our market is looking for other solutions to networking, discussing the pressing issues, and finding solutions for peers. Pierpoint Alpha Community is one such new solution.
 
 
·       Deutsche Borse/Clearstream/Securities Lending Times held their annual GFF Summit in Luxembourg, 1/28-1/30/20.  They just did their 2021 version virtually for the first time.
·       Global Investor Group held a virtual Buyside Repo & Regulatory Forum on 3/24.  conference was held in Fort Lauderdale, FL on 2/12-2/13/20.
 
 
Federal Reserve News:
 
 
The Fed Funds rate, which is still the target rate of Federal Reserve monetary policy and changes to which are made by and announced by the FOMC at regularly scheduled meetings, is currently set at 0.00-0.25% (remember, the Fed has been using a target ‘range’ for a while). The Federal Reserve posts an Effective Fed Funds Rate (EFFR).  The Overnight Bank Funding Rate (OBFR), is also published by the NY Fed to capture the volume-weighted median of overnight federal funds transactions, Eurodollar transactions, and the domestic deposits reported by banks. 
 
 
The next FOMC meetings are: 04/28/21, 06/16/21, 07/28/21, 09/22/21, 11/03/21, and 12/15/21. All of the meetings are two-day meetings. I have listed the 2nd day. However, as we saw on 3/3/20, the FOMC can call emergency meetings at any time, even on weekends, especially during the pandemic crisis we are in. 
 
The Federal Reserve’s Reverse Repo Facility (RRP), which has over 300 approved participants (mostly banks, GSEs, and MMFs) is used as a tool by the Federal Reserve, along with its Fed Funds target-setting monetary policy, and IOER for depository institutions, to help control short-term interest rates. The Fed is currently only repoing out US Treasuries from its portfolio and typically only Overnight.
 
The Federal Reserve is increasing attention to banks’ actions in phasing out LIBOR, reportedly calling on the banks for details on their progress in the phase-out, what exposure to LIBOR they still have, their plans for shifting contracts to another benchmark, and fallback language they are using. Barrons ran an article about how a regulatory tweak by the Fed and other regulators could have huge consequences for the US financial system. Monetary policy, coupled with US government borrowing, and capital rules, could push deposits and payments away from banks and into money funds. It could also put the Fed in a much more central role.
 
 
Earthquakes and Volcanoes:
 
 
Here are significant earthquakes for just two days. A little quieter than it has been previously:
 
04/01 6.0 Fiji region
04/01 4.8 WSW of Guelma, Algeria
04/01 4.6 W of Tobelo, Indonesia
04/01 4.7 SSE of Astypalaia, Greece
04/01 5.4 SE of Sarangani, Philippines
04/01 6.5 Kermadec Islands, New Zealand
04/01 4.6 Volcano Islands, Japan
04/01 4.8 ENE of Mutsu, Japan
03/31 4.9 SSW of Merizo Village, Guam
03/31 4.9 ENE of Iquique, Chile
03/31 4.7 WSW of Tual, Indonesia
03/31 4.7 W of La Libertad, Mexico
03/31 4.7 SE of Loyalty Islands
03/31 5.2 SSW of Merizo Village, Guam
03/31 5.1 Owen Fracture Zone
03/31 4.6 Fiji region
03/31 4.5 NW of Las Ovejas, Argentina
 
 
 
Weather:
 
                                                                                
The death toll from those Texas winter storms has now surpassed 100 people. Critical fire weather conditions exist across portions of the Northern and Southern Plains today. Record-breaking cold temperatures will spread across areas of the Lower Mississippi River Valley and extend to the Northeast over the next few days. Even Florida, which nearly broke record highs earlier this week, reaching 88-90, will cool off about 10 degrees. Otherwise, the weather across the contiguous US this weekend and into early week will be quiet.
 
 
 
The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins June 1st and ends November 30th.  According to Accuweather, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season was expected to have a more-active-than-normal season. They expected about 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 4 of them major hurricanes.  CSU predicted 16 named storms in the Atlantic, with 8 to become Hurricanes, and 4 to reach Category 3 or above strength. 
Instead, 2020 was a record year, not only with the pandemic, but also in meteorology. There were 30 tropical or subtropical cyclones, 30 named tropical storms, 14 hurricanes, and 6 major hurricanes. There were also 12 US landfalls, which broke the 2016 record of 9. 28 named storms was the previous record, held by the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season as the most active, and 2020 was also only the second hurricane season to have to use the Greek letter storm-naming system, after running out of the assigned names in the alphabetical system. To put this in perspective, an average Atlantic hurricane season produces only 12 named Tropical Storms, so 2020 was 250% more active than average.
 
 
Since 1900, tropical Atlantic Ocean temperatures have increased by 2 degrees Fahrenheit. There was no El Nino this year in the tropical Pacific Ocean, which usually means that the strong upper-level winds (wind shear) produced did not make it over to the Atlantic Ocean to battle hurricane formation. A La Nina formed late this hurricane season in the Pacific Ocean, which contributed to stronger storms in the latter half of the Atlantic Ocean season. The National Hurricane Center estimates there have only been 37 Category 5 storms in the last 170 years in the Atlantic Ocean. However, we have had 7 Category 5 storms in just the last five years!
 
 
The Pacific Hurricane Season starts 5/1/21 and ends 11/1/21. There are no tropical cyclones currently in the Eastern North Pacific or Central North Pacific.
 
 
 
Sports News:       
 
 
 
MLB:
 
 
The 2019 MLB regular season began on 3/28 of that year and ended on 9/30 (more than 6 months).  The Washington Nationals beat The Houston Astros in 7 games in The World Series. As these 2 teams play each other in the Spring Training facility that they share (and where I sing the National Anthem at), I was delighted to sing a few games there, before the 2020 Spring Training season (and eventually MLB season) was shut down about 3/15, with the pandemic. Then, MLB cancelled the Minor League seasons for all 3 levels of the Minors.
 
 
MLB finally came to an agreement with the MLBPA, and played a Summer Camp (short Spring Training) leading up to a 60-game, shortened, regular season of the 30 teams still aligned in 6 divisions, and still with AL and NL distinctions, which re-started 7/23/20. The games were played without fans, but the teams still travelled and didn’t not have the ‘Bubble Format’ of the NHL and NBA. That proved to be a mistake, as many games had to be postponed, doubleheadered, or cancelled for several teams, as COVID-19 outbreaks ran through teams.  This “asterisked regular season” ended on 9/27/20. In the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Tampa Rays 4 games to 3, to win in another exciting (and rare) 7-game series.
 
 
For 2021, it was decided by MLB that in the Grapefruit League (Spring Training-Florida), the teams on the East coast would only play each other and the teams on the West coast would only play each other. So, the Astros, Cardinals, Marlins, Mets, and Nationals will play each other, and not travel to other ballparks, just these 3 parks in West Palm Beach, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.  They will play 24 games in 30 days.  The other 8 teams in the Grapefruit League in Florida on the West Coast will be split into two groups (Tigers/Yankees/Phillies/Blue Jays and Braves/Red Sox/Twins/Rays) and will play each other 28 games over the 30-day span. MLB eliminated the use of college baseball teams in the revised schedules, because they haven’t been subject to MLB testing protocols. Also eliminated were split-squad games, which allow for the evaluation of more players. I see another ‘asterisk’ season on the way. The exhibition season began for all teams on 2/28. I was honored to be chosen by the Spring Training Facility of the Cardinals and Marlins to come in and be officially videotaped for the scoreboard performance of the National Anthem and “God Bless America”, and that performance will be presented at the 3/26 Mets @ Marlins game.
 
The 162-game schedule for 2021 begins today, about a month later than usual. The Players Association finally got the owners to relent on the 154-game schedule. MLB is welcoming fans back to all 30 ballparks for Opening Day. The commissioner is hopeful for full stadiums in 2021, possibly without fan restrictions by mid-season. Players are going to be following very strict guidelines regarding COVID-19 precautions. Baseball is also donating $1.5 million in tickets to frontline and essential workers throughout the season to show appreciation for their herculean efforts. Marlins Park has been renamed here in Miami to loanDepot park, a mixture of bad grammar. MLB is finally about to implement the Designated Hitter for the National League, something which has been around in the American League since 1973, and something which has triggered many debates about the purity of the game. One side says it removes the nearly automatic out and increases offensive production, while the other side says it lets the pitcher avoid hitting and facing retribution for pitches he may have thrown at opposing batters. The players and the MLB now appear to largely favor a universal DH. The only thing holding the rule back is MLB owners withholding the DH rule from the NL, unless the players union agrees to an expanded playoff format in 2021. Basically, that’s trying to swap one rule, favored by almost all, for a rule that only favors the greedy owners. The Mets have agreed to a 10-year contract extension for $341 million with Francisco Lindor. The Red Sox opening day with the Orioles, schedule for 4/1, has been postponed to Friday, because of expected rain. Mookie Betts, one of my favorite former Red Sox players, has an MVP trophy, and now 2 World Series Championship rings. He also has baseball’s most popular jersey.
 
Golf:
 
 
The PGA Tour 2021 season rolls on. The PGA played the popular local Honda Classic at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens, FL (just up the road from me and about 7 of the Tour golfers). Yet, many of the locals did not actually play in the tournament this year (Woods, Koepka, Thomas, Kaufman, DJ, Schwartzel, etc.). The first two were injured, but 20 of the top 30 golfers in the country live here in Palm Beach County. Aussie golfer, Matt Jones, ended a 7-year Tour win drought, with a great performance at the Honda Classic, winning in dominating fashion.  He got a tidy $1.6 million winner’s check and an entry to this year’s Masters. The 40-year-old opened with an amazing 61 on the very difficult course. Tiger Woods reportedly feels better after followup procedures on his leg. The cause of his automobile crash in California has now been discovered (as of 3/31), but detectives aren’t revealing it, unless Tiger signs off on the disclosure. Greg Norman says it’s time to move on, and is heading home to Australia, after selling his Jupiter Island estate for $77 million and his Colorado ranch for $52 million, in the past month. The Tour’s last tuneup before the Masters is this weekend’s Valero Texas Open at TPC San Antonio, starting today (Thursday). Next week is the Masters.
 
 
LPGA great, Annika Sorenstam, returned from a 13-year retirement, to play in last month’s Gainbridge LPGA, which was at her home course of Lake Nona, in Orlando, FL. The Hall-of-Famer had not competed in an official tournament since 2008. She made the cut, which is pretty impressive, but the winner of the tournament was 
 
This is wild! They just held the 2021 Seminole Pro-Member private tournament at the famed Seminole Golf Club, up the street here in North Palm Beach and these were the pairings (with some notable famous names):
 

 
 
 
 
NFL:
 
 
The 100th NFL season ended last year, in Miami, in an entertaining 31-20 comeback Super Bowl victory for the Kansas City Chiefs over the San Francisco 49ers. The 2020 season began with no preseason games, with teams in their own stadiums, but with limited numbers of fans. I think the NFL made a huge mistake (I know I keep saying it), just like MLB, in not playing in a bubble like the NBA and NHL.
 
 
Super Bowl LV was played in Tampa Bay on Sunday, with the Bucs acting as home team, the first time that a Super Bowl was played in the city where one of the teams was from. Despite the odds against it and his age against him, QB Tom Brady and the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl over the Chiefs, 31-9. Tom Brady was named Super Bowl MVP, as he won his 7th Super Bowl, more than any franchise, let alone any player, in 10 trips to the Super Bowl.
 
I just read an article a few days ago that said all 11 offensive starters for the Tampa Bay Bucs will be returning next season. But, today I read that WR Antonio Brown has been talking with the Bucs, but they are currently far apart on how much money to pay him. The veteran WR market is somewhere between DeSean Jackson’s one year/$4.5 million contract with Los Angeles, to T.Y. Hilton’s one year/$8 million contract in Indianapolis. LSU WR Ja’Marr Chase said he “wouldn’t mind” a reunion with QB Joe Burrow in Cincinnati. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft said “I don’t feel like we’ve done the greatest job the last few years” in the Draft. Giants’ John Mara said he is waiting for the “appropriate time” to discuss Saquon Barkley extension.
 
 
 
Tennis
 
 
The 2021 tennis season is now in full swing, although not always with fans in the stadiums. The first major of the year, the Australian Open was, delayed 3 weeks by COVID-19, and ended 2/21.  Novak Djokovic successfully defended his Men’s singles title, claiming his 18th Grand Slam title, edging closer to Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who both have 20 Grand Slam titles each.  In Women’s singles, the Final was won by Naomi Osaka, her 4th Grand Slam title. Down in Miami, Sakkari stopped Osaka’s long win streak with a shutout in the first set. Serena Williams has revealed in an interview that her marriage is “not bliss”. Iron Woman Andreescu has beaten Muguruza to make the Miami quarterfinals. Bautista Agut beat Medvedev in Miami quarterfinal. Bianca Andreescu outlasted Sorribles Tormo for Miami Open semifinal. Roland Garros Stadium and the French Open is still on for the “scheduled dates”, as France re-enters pandemic lockdown.
 
 
NCAA Basketball
 
 
The 2020-2021 season began in November. The 2021 NCAA tournament, March Madness, will continue in April and will be entirely in Indianapolis. We are nearing the end. We have reached the FINAL FOUR, which will be played 4/3. The Championship will be on 4/5. After the 11th seed UCLA, who knocked off my Michigan State in the first round, edged No.2 seed Michigan (and ranked No.2 in the nation), No.1 seed and rank Gonzaga crushed No.5 seed USC, No.1 seed Baylor beat No.3 seed Arkansas, and No.2 seed Houston beat Cinderella team No.12 seed Oregon State, we are left with the final four teams:
 
No.1 Gonzaga will face No.11 UCLA
No.1 Baylor will face No.2 Houston
 
 
These were the latest AP Top 25 Rankings is as of 02/07/21:
 
1.    Gonzaga (24-0)
2.    Michigan (18-2)
3.    Baylor (19-1)
4.    Illinois (19-6)
5.    Iowa (18-7)
6.    West Virginia (17-7)
7.    Ohio State (18-7)
8.    Alabama (20-6)
9.    Houston (20-3)
10.                 Villanova (16-4)
11.                 Florida State (15-4)
12.                 Arkansas (20-5)
13.                 Kansas (18-8)
14.                 Creighton (17-7)
15.                 Texas (15-7)
16.                 Oklahoma (14-8)
17.                 Oklahoma State (17-6)
18.                 Texas Tech (16-8)
19.                 San Diego State (20-4)
20.                 Loyola IL (21-4)
21.                 Virginia (16-6)
22.                 Virginia Tech (15-5)
23.                 Purdue (17-8)
24.                 Colorado (19-7)
25.                 Wisconsin (16-10)
 
 
A new league, the Overtime Elite League is making some news, proposing to pay high school basketball players $100,000 salaries and a focus toward a pro basketball career, which organizers feel might me more appealing to players than college basketball programs. The OTE would be backed by a sports media company, Overtime, and is obviously intensifying the debate over whether student athletes should be paid. Overtime intends to compete directly with the NCAA for the nation’s top high school basketball players, by employing about 30 of them, to circumvent the college sports scene. Overtime will offer each athlete, some as young as 16, a minimum of $100,000 annually, as well as a signing bonus and some shares in the overall company. The company will also provide athletes with health and disability insurance, and will set aside $100,000 in college scholarship money for each player, in case any decide not to pursue the NBA.  Overtime was founded in 2016 and got an early investment from David Stern, the former NBA commissioner. Its videographers have been filming high school players all over the country. The larger debate is whether it is appropriate for pro sports leagues to grab young athletes out of high school and college with big checks, or for colleges to exploit the talents of athletes for big revenues without compensating the athletes. Since 2006 draft, the NBA has not been able to go after athletes until they turn 19 or one year after their high school graduation.
 
Olympics:
 
The Olympic Torch began its 121-day journey around Japan this week, leading up to the opening of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo.
 
NHL:
 
Last season (2019-2020) ended in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals on 6/12/19, when the St. Louis Blues beat my Bruins 4-3 in the Finals. The puck dropped on the asterisk season on 10/2/19. The puck dropped (again) to conclude this past season on 8/1/20. The teams played in the modified playoffs in two bubble arenas in Toronto and Edmonton, without fans. The Stanley Cup was won by the Tampa Bay Lightning (who ousted my Bruins, due to the Presidents Cup curse) over the Dallas Stars, 4 games to 2. The Finals were held in the Edmonton bubble, without fans.
 
 
The 2021 NHL season (which normally would have started in 2020 and wrapped around to 2021) was delayed and started 1/13/21.  The regular season is normally 82 games, but will only be 56 games this year, once again due to the pandemic. There have already been many cancelled or postponed games, due to COVID-19 racing through some of the teams. There was also divisional realignment to limit team matchups to intra-division play and minimize team travel as much as possible, due to the pandemic.  However, this realignment had been discussed for a few years now. Remember, there were two Conferences with weird names for 4 Divisions of each, to get to (now) 31 teams. This is this season’s odd configuration. The top 4 teams from each division make the playoffs:
 
NORTH (all Canadian) (their current standings 32-37 games into the regular season)
 
Toronto Maple Leafs
Winnipeg Jets
Edmonton Oilers
Montreal Canadiens
Calgary Flames
Vancouver Canucks
Ottawa Senators
 
WEST(and their current standings 33-37 games into the regular season)
 
Las Vegas Golden Knights
Colorado Avalanche
Minnesota Wild
St. Louis Blues
Arizona Coyotes
LA Kings
San Jose Sharks
Anaheim Mighty Ducks
 
CENTRAL (and their current standings 33-37 games into the regular season)
 
Tampa Bay Lightning
Florida Panthers
Carolina Hurricanes
Nashville Predators
Chicago Blackhawks
Columbus Blue Jackets
Dallas Stars
Detroit Red Wings
 
EAST (and their current standings 32-36 games into the regular season)
 
Washington Capitals
New York Islanders
Pittsburgh Penguins
Boston Bruins
Philadelphia Flyers
New York Rangers
New Jersey Devils
Buffalo Sabres
 
 
Flyers’ Shayne Gostisbehere has been surprisingly placed on waivers. Flyers’ Chuck Fletcher may be looking to make a big deal to shake up the team, which is in a major funk. That could involve Travis Sanheim of the Kings. John Tortorella’s time looks like it could be over with the Blue Jackets, although he pulled of an incredible win Tuesday night over the high-flying Lightning. The Panthers have had a great season, but now must face the loss of star Aaron Ekblad. The Sabres are in an 18-game winless streak. Alex Pietrangelo has returned to the Golden Knights.
 
 
NBA:
 
 
Last year, the NBA season did not start until 10/22/19, 18 days later than last year. We were nearing the playoffs, when the pandemic shut the regular season down, with just a little over a month left. Late 6/4/20, the NBA reportedly approved a 22-team format to restart the season in the Summer. All games were played at the three venues at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl, starting 7/31. The modified playoff format for this asterisk season began on 10/12. In the end, the Miami Heat lost the Championship to the LA Lakers.
 
The NBA season tipped off again on 12/22/20. But, it is totally different. Fan attendance differs in every stadium, depending on different factors, including state COVID-19 guidelines. Dapper Labs, creator of NBA Top Shot, has received $305 million in funding. There is a rumor of a proposed 3-team blockbuster trade, that would send Bradley Beal to my Celtics in 2021 offseason from the Wizards. That would give Boston a Big Three of Tatum, Brown, and Beal. Suns’ Najafi committed $10 million contribution ($1 million per year/10 years) to the NBA Foundation, which will help drive empowerment for Black communities. The rate at which triple-doubles are occurring this season has increased nearly 700% from 9 years ago and 47% since last season. The Wizards’ Westbrook pulled off an incredible 35-14-21 triple-double. The airplane the Jazz were flying on had to turn back after hitting birds on takeoff. The tradeline just passed. Gordon went to the Nuggets, Spurs added veteran Dieng, and the Lakers picked up Drummond. After being just traded to the Hawks, his hometown team, Lou Williams was seriously considering retirement. But, he says he wants to help his hometown team make the playoffs. We’ve played 44-47 games so far in the regular season, and here are the current standings (top 8 of each conference):
 
EASTERN CONFERENCE
 
Philadelphia 76ers
Brooklyn Nets
Milwaukee Bucks
Charlotte Hornets
NY Knicks
Atlanta Hawks
 
Bubble teams:
Boston Celtics
Miami Heat
Indiana Pacers
Chicago Bulls
 
WESTERN CONFERENCE
 
Utah Jazz
Phoenix Suns
LA Clippers
LA Lakers
Denver Nuggets
Portland Trailblazers
 
Bubble teams:
Dallas Mavericks
San Antonia Spurs
Memphis Grizzlies
Golden State Warriors
 
    
 
Horse Racing:
 
 
After the strange order of the fanless Triple Crown races last year, due to COVID-19, 2021 Kentucky Derby will be held on 05/01 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. The top 10-ranked contenders, so far, are:
 
1.Concert Tour-just crushed the field at 2021 Rebel Stakes and is another Bob Baffert trained horse
2.Essential Quality-just won 2021 Southwest Stakes
3.Life is Good-just won 2021 San Felipe, another Bob Baffert trained horse
4.Hot Rod Charlie-just won 2021 Louisiana Derby
5.Known Agenda-just won 2021 Florida Derby
6.Medina Spirit-came in 2nd at 2021 San Felipe, another Bob Baffert horse
7.Greatest Honour-came in 3rd 2021 Florida Derby
8.Soup and Sandwich-came in 2nd 2021 Florida Derby
9.Helium-just won 2021 Tampa Bay Derby
10.Like the King-just won 2021 Jeff Ruby Stakes
 
I looked at the names of the Sires and I don’t recognize any as superstar horses.
 
The other notable races leading up to the Kentucky Derby are:
 
4/3 Blue Grass Stakes
4/3 Santa Anita Derby
4/3 Wood Memorial
4/3 Blue Grass Stakes
4/10 Arkansas Derby
4/10 Lexington
 
 
Auto Racing:
 
 
In the NASCAR Cup Series of 2020, Chase Elliott won. His dad, Bill Elliott, won the championship in 1988. They became the 3rd father-son duo to win the title, joining the Petty’s (Lee and Richard) and Jarrett’s (Ned and Dale).  In 2019, Kyle Busch won in the last race at Homestead.  In 2018, the winner was Joey Logano, who beat Martin Truex Jr. in the final 15 laps of the final race at Homestead.  Truex Jr. won the crown in 2017.  The 2021 regular season began with the Daytona 500 on 2/14/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and winners:
 
02/09/21 Busch Clash at Daytona-Kyle Busch
02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 1 at Daytona-Aric Almirola
02/11/21 Bluegreen Vacations Duel 2 at Daytona-Austin Dillon
02/14/21 DAYTONA 500-Michael McDowell
02/21/21 O’Reilly Auto Parts 253 at Daytona-Christopher Bell
02/28/21 DIXIE VODKA 400 at Homestead-Miami-William Byron
03/07/21 Pennzoil 400 by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas-Kyle Larson
03/14/21 NASCAR Cup Series Race at Phoenix-Martin Truex Jr.
03/21/21 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta-Ryan Blaney
03/29/21 Food City Dirt Race at Bristol-Joey Logano
04/10/21 Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville, VA-
04/18/21 Toyota Owners 400-Richmond Raceway-
04/25/21 GEICO 500-Talladega-
 
 
Formula One began 2020 with F1 Car Launch Dates for the various teams from 2/12 through 2/15 for Renault, Racing Point, McLaren, and Ferrari.  That was followed by the Pre-Season Testing schedule.  The opening of the season coincided with the COVID-19 lockdown. Lewis Hamilton won his 7th World Title.  F1 will revert to 2pm start times in 2021. Matteo Pagliani was crowned inaugural F1 Mobile Racing Esports Champion. There will be a 23-race F1 calendar for 2021. It does not begin until 3/28/21. Here is the 2021 schedule and here are the winners:
 
03/28/21-Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix-Lewis Hamilton edged Max Verstappen
04/18/21-Italy-
05/02/21-TBD
05/09/21-Spain-
05/23/21-Monaco-
06/06/21-Azerbaijan-
06/13/21-Canada-
06/27/21-France-
07/04/21-Austria-
07/18/21-Great Britain-
08/02/21-Hungary-
08/29/21-Belgium-
09/05/21-Netherlands-
09/12/21-Italy-
09/26/21-Russia-
10/03/21-Singapore-
10/10/21-Japan-
10/24/21-United States
10/31/21-Mexico-
11/07/21-Brazil-
11/21/21-Australia-
12/05/21-Saudi Arabia-
12/12/21-Abu Dhabi-
 
 
IndyCar Racing circuit (Indy cars are generally considered faster than F1 car along straight lines, mostly because their races are on oval tracks, while F1 tracks are more intricate, requiring better brakes and more aerodynamic grip than Indy cars).  In 2019, Josef Newgarden came in 8th in the last race, to just edge out Simon Pagenaud for the championship. Scott Dixon was the Championship winner for 2020, edging out defending champion, Josef Newgarden. The 2021 season does not begin until mid-April. Here is the schedule and the winners:
 
04/17/21-Birmingham Barber Motorsports Park
04/24/21-St. Petersburg Street Course
05/01/21-Texas Motor Speedway
05/14/21-Indianapolis Motor Speedway-GP 1
05/29/21-Indy 500
06/12/21-Detroit Raceway on Belle Isle
06/19/21-Road America
07/03/21-Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
07/10/21-Toronto Exhibition Place
08/07/21-Nashville Street Course
08/13/21-Indianapolis GP 2
08/20/21-Gateway Motorsports Park
09/11/21-Portland International Raceway
09/18/21-Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
09/25/21-Streets of Long Beach
 
 
Travel News:
 
 
Virgin Hotels is doubling down on Scotland with a new Glasgow location. Utah is getting two new state parks and one is named after the State dinosaur (?). No, I’m not going to leave you hanging. It will be named Utahraptor State Park. I’ve heard of State birds, State flowers, State Governors, State Senators, State flags, State penitentiaries, and State animals, but not State dinosaurs. Apparently, this new park will be located where the dinosaur fossils were first found in 1975. The feathered dinosaur, which dwarfed the velociraptor, made famous by JURASSIC PARK, had nine-inch claws and could grow to 20 feet tall. Smithsonian Magazine reported, after scientists tossed around the name spielbergi (after the movie’s director) for the newly found species, finally decided to honor the State with Utahraptor ostrommaysi. Interestingly, the site was also used as a Conservation Corps Camp and “relocation” center during the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, well before the fossils were found. Travel & Leisure reports from a survey by LuggageHero that these are the US airlines least likely to lose or damage your luggage: 1. Allegiant Air, 2. Southwest Airlines, 3. Hawaiian Air. These US airlines are the MOST likely to lose or damage your luggage: 1. American Airlines, 2. Envoy Air. TSA announced that it screened a record number of travelers for Spring Break 2021, as people cooped up during the pandemic are Breaking out. Unfortunately, the pandemic is not quite over and people are still dying. CDC is still reminding Americans to “limit” travel amid rise in COVID-19 cases in 33 States. Airlines are discussing reinstating change fees on lowest fare travel, all of which had been suspended due to the pandemic. Delta is resuming flights to Iceland for vaccinated travelers from Minneapolis, JFK, Boston, and other airports. Earlier this month, Iceland reopened its borders to vaccinated travelers from outside Europe’s Schengen Zone, including Americans. It is the first destination in Europe to do so for tourism purposes. In order to visit, and this will no doubt be important going forward for other countries (another reason that vaccine resisters may find their worlds shrinking), travelers must provide proof of a vaccination approved by the European Medicines Agency, which includes Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Johnson & Johnson. Or, visitors can provide proof of recovery from COVID-19. So, that little index card with the dates of shots from the CDC is likely to prove very valuable to people. There have been conspiracy theories that you may need it for travel, for restaurant service, and maybe to obtain a job. Mount Rushmore has closed, not because President Trump is being added, but because firefighters are battling South Dakota wildfires nearby. Hundreds of residents have also had to evacuate their homes. I’m just looking at the picture and wondering why it seems like President Washington is turning his back on the other Presidents. Airbnb has launched new neurodiverse experiences to ensure virtual travel becomes more approachable for everyone. Etihad Airways may have just made one of the world’s most beautiful safety videos, filming it at the Louvre Abu Dhabi. Graduate Hotels is coming to NYC, bringing eclectic cool to Roosevelt Island. Vaccinated travelers will be allowed a beach getaway in Phuket in July. Speaking of the Louvre, the real one in Paris just put its entire collection online, so you can view it at home for free. Japan has become the latest country to issue digital vaccine passport. Disneyland Resort may be expanding in the near future. Royal Caribbean announced that it is launching new Mediterranean cruises for vaccinated travelers. Celebrity Cruises has announced June sailings to Greece.
 
 
I am keeping this part in as a Public Service Announcement for at least one more Repo Commentary.  The CDC has just added some Caribbean islands to its designation of “very high” risk for travel, now including (as of 2/2/21):
 
Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Antigua, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Barbuda, Bonaire, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Burma (Myanmar), Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Curacao, Denmark, Easter Island, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Finland, French Guinea, French Polynesia, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guernsey, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Honduras, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jersey, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mayotte, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Seychelles, Sint Maarten, Slovakia, Slovenia, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, Maderia Islands, The Netherlands, Turks and Caicos Islands, US Virgin Islands, United Kingdom, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and cruise ships.  (After typing all that out, I’m wondering if it would have just been easier to name the ones that were okay to travel to.)
 
The CDC uses Travel Health Notices to alert travelers to health threats around the world and has adapted its 3-level notice system to a 4-level system for COVID-19 and updated criteria for each level.
 
Level 4-Very High level of COVID-19, travelers should avoid all travel to these destinations
Level 3-High level of COVID-19, travelers should avoid all nonessential travel to these destinations
Level 2-Moderate level of COVID-19, travelers are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and should avoid all nonessential travel to these destinations
Level 1-Low level of COVID-19, travelers should wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart from people who are not from your travel group, avoid crowds, wash their hands often or use hand sanitizer, and watch for signs of illness
 
 
Health News:  
 
 
As of this evening (3/30), globally, more than 2,796,431 people have died from COVID-19.  More than 127,880,539 people have been infected with COVID-19. In the US, confirmed cases of COVID-19 have surpassed 30.3 million people. Of that, US deaths from the pandemic have surpassed 550,371. The US has the most deaths from COVID-19 of any country in the world, followed by Brazil (313,866), Mexico (201,832), India (162,144), and UK (126,912). COVID-19 was in fact the third-leading cause of death in the US in 2020! You are, no doubt, hearing more about the variants of the virus SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 (UK, South Africa, Brazil, New York, California, etc.), which so far scientists believe the current vaccines will cover. Just as officials warned, the UK variant, which is the most contagious, is now the top 5 regions in the US, and responsible for 26% of all new infections, according to the CDC. However, scientists are beginning to agree that, because of the likelihood of more variants, that COVID-19 booster shots each year may be required, similar to taking the Flu shot. The reason behind that is that, unlike say a vaccine for measles, which works all the time, influenza shots have to be tweaked each year to identify the circulating strains, coordinated by the WHO, so as to change the structure of the vaccine every year. Latin America’s latest COVID-19 surge could be worse than last year’s, according to experts. Ontario has locked down due to a steep rise in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
 
In early March, the US started administering more than 2 million shots per day. The country surpassed President Biden’s initial goal of 100 million vaccines into arms in his first days, within 58 days. So, the President doubled his goal to 200 million shots by the end of April. He also has set a target date of May 1, 2021, for all US adults to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Here, in Florida, as of Monday 3/29, 40-year-olds and older are eligible. Currently, there are only 2 of 3 vaccines approved in the US for emergency purposes that require two shots for full 95-96% effectiveness, while the other vaccine, Johnson & Johnson, requires only one shot for full 76% effectiveness. The US continues to have the most COVID-19 cases and deaths, and cases have just risen again in 33 States. Globally, more than 559 million shots had been given by 3/30. There are 9 vaccines being administered globally to combat COVID-19.
 
Pfizer/BioNTech                72 countries
Oxford/AstraZeneca         71 countries
Moderna                             32 countries
Sinopharm                          19 countries
Sputnik V                            18 countries
Sinovac                               11 countries
Janssen                              2   countries
EpiVacCorona                   1   country
Covaxin (Bharat Biotech) 1   country
 
Germany and Canada have decided to limit the use of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for COVID-19 for anyone under 60-years-old. The German medicines regulator found 31 cases of a type of rare blood clot among the nearly 2.7 million people who had received the vaccine in Germany.
 
Regarding that WHO investigation, in conjunction with China authorities, into the cause of COVID-19, which produced only hundreds of pages of reports, the WHO says more work is needed to rule out a COVID-19 lab leak. Also, scientists in UK are researching in a clinical trial on whether we can mix the Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines. Public health experts are watching several COVID-19 hot spots around the country, including areas of Florida and Michigan, to determine if a 4th COVID-19 wave may be building. A Regeneron antibody cocktail may reduce COVID-19 hospitalization by 70%. Having given millions of people shots, authorities now are getting a really clear picture on what the possible near-term side effects of the shots can be. Moderna has found to sometimes create one or more of the following in some people: injection site pain, fatigue (sometimes major), headache, chills and fever, and aches and pains in muscles and joints. It has been noted in the data that older adults are less likely to experience side effects after vaccination. The reactions to the second shot for vaccines that require two shots are reportedly more intense. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines are similarly mRNA vaccines, in which the first shot teaches the body how to recognize the COVID-19 virus, and the second shot (the “booster”) teaches the body the immune response by making a piece of SARS-CoV-2 protein. The Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine reportedly is associated with milder side effects that the mRNA shots. I’ve researched the vaccines a great deal and the most important information I found, and it wasn’t easy, is that after the two shots vaccination or the one shot vaccination, recipients will be immunized in 14 days after the last shot. It is similar to the incubation of the virus and the immunization time of influenza shots. So, I’ll wait until 4/24 to return to a large fitness center. Great, Pfizer just announced this morning (4/1) that its vaccine protection lasts at least 6 months after 2nd shot. What happened to one year and then maybe boosters? It also announced that the COVID-19 vaccine is 100% effective in children 12-15-years-old.
 
In other health news, drinking caffeine during pregnancy has been associated with slightly lower birth weights, according to new research. Another new study has shown that eating nitrate-rich leafy greens can boost muscle function and strength.  The FDA has approved a new MS medication, a once-daily oral treatment. One in Seven adults are unaware that they have chronic kidney disease, which affects about 37 million people in the US. 90% of those people don’t know they have it. Viagra may help men with coronary artery disease live longer, according to new research from Sweden. 61% of Americans say that they gained weight during the Pandemic. New research suggests that maintaining 3 feet of distance is enough for students in classrooms when mask mandates are in place, rather than 6 feet of distance. Galleri is a new blood test that has the ability to detect 50 types of cancer through a single blood draw. THC from marijuana can linger in breast milk for as long as 6 weeks, according to new research. The FDA has just authorized a rapid at-home COVID-19 test without a prescription. In an effort to reduce or manage our carbon footprints, shampoo bottles will soon feature labels that show carbon content. A Baltimore, MD plant run by Emergent BioSolutions was making two different coronavirus vaccines when its workers mixed up the ingredients, ruining 15 million doses of Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine, according to the NY Times. Facebook is letting anti-vaxxers to scare women from getting COVID-19 vaccines.
 
 
Animal News:
 
 
This could be a problem, sickly black bears in the Sierra Nevada are acting friendlier and fearless around humans. The bears have been found to have a mysterious disease. A necropsy confirmed that it, along with 2 previous bears, had suffered from encephalitis. A bright spot from COVID-19 has meant quieter oceans, healthier whales, and unhappy whale hunters. In Ottawa, Canada a hero dog, Clover, blocked the road with traffic and summoned help from passing drivers for her owner Haley Moore’s sudden seizure. A Virginia police officer was shot during attempt to catch an escaped cow. A father has been accused of bringing, dropping child in San Diego Zoo’s elephant habitat. One of the elephants appeared ready to charge. Animal rights groups criticize new Chinese hotel with polar bear enclosure. A Columbus, Ohio zookeeper was injured in a cheetah attack at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. A two-story barn at Roer’s Zoofari in Virginia caught fire and killed two giraffes. The FDA is continuing an investigation into dog heart damage linked to diet, possibly associated with grain-free pet foods. Nine great apes at the San Diego Zoo have received their Covid vaccinations. Scientists have discovered a giant, luminous deep-sea shark, one of three species, a kitefin shark, that glow in the dark. It is now the largest known luminous underwater creature. Brandy, a brown tabby cat, was reunited with its owner, who had adopted her as a 2-month-old kitten in 2005 and hadn’t seen her since. Tiny fossils in Newfoundland, Canada may be evidence of the oldest cephalopod on record, perhaps 500-million-years-old. Here’s an odd one…Scientists are brainstorming over why so many sea creatures swim in a strange circular pattern. One thought is that it calibrates the animals’ magnetic biosensors, in much the same way that manmade submarines circle. Oh no, not again! Billions of periodical cicadas, known as Brood X, will emerge across the eastern US in 2021. Most predators have been stymied by the cicadas’ 17-year life spans, but the insects are still vulnerable to
‘zombie fungus’. It took 25 years for scientists to crack a mystery surrounding a neurodegenerative disease killing bald eagles and other lake animals in the US. A sprawling 5,000-year-old cemetery and fortress has been discovered in Poland. Every few years, millions of by-the-wind sailor jellyfish wash up on beaches and die. Scientists blame ‘the blob’ on this phenomenon. A dead “river monster” from the Amazon (like that guy hunts on that show River Monsters hunts and I watch occasionally) was discovered in, gulp, Florida! This is leading officials to be concerned that the fish might become another invasive species here. Okay, this one is weird too…apparently genes of 500-million-year-old sea monster live inside us. Primeval sea creatures share genes with humans. A juvenile humpback whale has washed up on a beach in the UK after first being spotted dead weeks ago. Japan’s famous cherry blossoms are seeing their earliest bloom in 1,200 years, as the climate warms. Fireflies don’t respond well to light pollution.
 
 
Entertainment News:
 
Ariana Grande is joining The Voice as a coach.Seth Rogen has clarified his comments on Emma Watson “storming off the set”. Demi Lovato, as CNN reports, said, “I am too gay to marry a man right now.” Disney+ has unveiled the Obi-Wan Kenobi cast. I can’t wait!  Former Bachelor star, Ben Higgins, is discussing Chris Harrison. Woody Allen has once again denied sexual abuse allegation in rare interview. Lady Gaga is gushing about her 35th birthday gift from boyfriend. Jason Derulo and his girlfriend Jena Frumes are expecting their first child. Reese Witherspoon has taken to Instagram to celebrate her “sweet hubby” of 10 years. Hilary Duff has welcomed her third child, also on Instagram. After a week of controversy, Sharon Osbourne is out of The Talk cast. Bindi Irwin and her husband Chandler Powell have welcomed their first child. As the Kardashians bring their reality show to a close this season, Kim Kardashian appears to be bringing her marriage to Kanye West also to a close. Their marital problems are actually being featured on the same reality show, Keeping Up With The Kardashians. I watched the Tina Turner tribute story and it was awesome. I still don’t understand why or how King Kong and Godzilla are fighting. I seem to remember King Kong being much smaller and without much of a friendship with mankind, except one woman. Kirsten Dunst is pregnant with baby No.2. Real Housewives of Salt Lake City star Jen Shah has been arrested on 3/30 and charged with a telemarketing scheme, including charges of wire fraud and money laundering. If convicted, Shah and her assistant each face up to 50 years in prison. TikTok star Rochelle Hager is dead at 31, after freak driving accident. Kendall Jenner’s security has been increased after a man was arrested for trespassing. Fran Drescher is very happy for The Nanny coming to HBO Max. Paul Simon has joined a growing list of prominent musicians cashing in, by selling his song catalog. Manifest starts its new season tonight.
 
Technology & Space News:
 
 
A piece of the Wright Brother’s first plane is now on Mars. A rare daytime fireball meteor created a massive sonic boom over the UK. Speaking of the UK, the Biden administration is threatening tariffs on UK goods in “tech tax” disagreement. In retaliation for UK tax on tech firms, the US has warned that it could put tariffs of up to 25% on a host of UK exports. This could affect ceramics, make-up, overcoats, game consoles, and furniture. Interestingly, Biden Administration is pressing ahead with the action, which was initiated by President Trump, despite warnings from the UK. Such actions have proceeded against similar taxes in India, Austria, and Spain. However, the US has suspended tariffs on single malt Scotch whiskey.  No need to get unreasonable, lol! Facebook has agreed to pay France EU 106 million in back taxes. Now that Spring has sprung in the Northern Hemisphere and Autumn has fallen in the Southern Hemisphere), last weekend (3/26) featured March’s full moon, a supermoon (20% larger than normal), and referred to as the ‘Worm Moon’. The Old Farmer’s Almanac assigns nicknames to each of the year’s full moons, drawing from Native American tradition. This is usually when the ground begins warming up and earthworms begin appearing. TSMC will invest $100 billion to increase semiconductor output. Micron and Western Digital are looking at possible deals for Japanese chip maker Kioxia, a deal which could be worth as much as $30 billion. Google’s ad changes, which include blocking of third-party cookies, will prompt big brands to revamp their data strategies.
 
US News:
 
President Biden has just unveiled his sweeping $2 trillion infrastructure plan. It’s kind of Biden’s version of FDR’s New Deal plan to get us out of the Great Depression.  To pay for shoring up America’s disintegrating infrastructure, the White House plans to take back some of the tax cuts that Republicans gave corporations and the rich 4 years ago. The corporate tax rate may move from 21% to 28%. Within the plan is electrical vehicle support to clean water. Without me saying whether one policy was better than the other, President Biden’s reversal of President Trump’s border ban and allowing some 4,100 immigrant children to enter the US, has led to their confinement in huge refugee facilities, which are 800% over capacity. The parents are not allowed to enter, and they assume that the children will eventually be put in foster facilities or linked with current US resident relatives. As word spreads, there are likely to be more immigrant families taking advantage of this, which will only exacerbate the overcrowding and stalled processing. It must be a very difficult decision for a foreign parent to give up their child over a border to a new country, with the hopes of a better life for the child, potentially never to see them again. There is a livestream of the Derek Chauvin trial, the accused Minneapolis ex-policeman in the George Floyd death, in its 4th day. Four people, including a child, were killed in a California shooting. Sarah Palin is urging mask use by Americans, after revealing COVID-19 diagnosis. The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled that Charlottesville can remove Confederate statues.
 
 
Bankruptcy:
 
 
In 2020, restaurant and food service industry sales fell by $240 billion, according to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Industry 2021 report.  
 
 
International News:
 
 
The Pentagon and military officials around the world are becoming more alarmed, as North Korean leader continues to make stronger public threats, after firing of 3 ballistic missiles into the ocean, and new satellite imagery from US military shows a nuclear power facility that has clearly been converted to make nuclear missiles and bombs. All of this coincided with joint Naval exercises by South Korea and the US. The sabre-rattling continues. Veteran Hong Kong democracy leaders have been convicted over protests in a landmark case. Dozens of civilians were killed and 35,000 others displaced after Islamist rebels seized the city of Palma in Mozambique. Former President of Madagascar, Didier Ratsiraka died at the age of 84. The cargo ship Ever Given has final been freed, after it ran aground, blocking the Suez Canal for six days and resulting in a traffic jam of more than 350 vessels.
 
  
Florida:
 
 
The Palm Beach International Boat Show was just held 3/25-3/28 on Flagler Drive. I actually attended.  However, SunFest has been cancelled again. But, the Honda Classic at PGA National, in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, was just held on 3/15-3/21. Miami Beach officials declared a State of Emergency after large crowds materialized on the beaches last week to celebrate Spring Break. Over 1,000 people were arrested.
 
 
Jokes and Such:
 
Okay, I decided that since you readers are only going to give me dirty jokes that would just get me in trouble, in the context of distanced learning and your kids likely at home on the computer, I would provide you some CLEAN jokes that you can share with them. That’s just how I am J
 
31. Why were they called the “dark ages?”
Because there were a lot of knights.
32. What gets wetter the more it dries?
A towel.
33. Why aren’t koalas considered bears?
They don’t have the right koala-fications.
34. You: What cartoon mouse walks on two feet?
Them: Mickey Mouse
You: What duck walks on two feet?
Them: Donald Duck
You: No, all ducks do!
35. Want to hear a joke about a roof?
The first one’s on the house.
36. What’s a pirate’s favorite letter?
You probably think it’s “R” but it be the “C”.
37. How much teddy bears never want to eat anything?
Because they’re always stuffed.
38. Did you hear about the cheese factory that exploded in France?
There was nothing left but de Brie.
39. Where should you go in the room if you’re feeling cold?
The corner—they’re usually 90 degrees.
40. I can never take my dog to the park because the ducks keep trying to bite him.
I guess that’s what I get for buying a pure bread dog.
 
I promise that they will continue to be corny or cornier, unless you give me some good quasi-clean jokes for adults…